Queensland trounce NSW 32-8 in State of Origin III
CHAMPION Queensland fullback Billy Slater proved you can always teach an old dog new tricks, in his team's 32-8 trouncing over New South Wales at a near-capacity Suncorp Stadium last night.
Slater was at his brilliant best, unconquerable under the high ball and scoring a crucial try in the 45th minute.
Who said Slater, 31, was too old?
The little custodian showed fast feet to leave his opposite and superstar Jarryd Hayne in his wake to land a stinging blow to the Blues' hopes of taking a clean sweep away from enemy territory.
Slater's try, after backing up a Justin Hodges offload, gave the hosts a crucial 14-2 lead.
The Blues bounced back through some Josh Dugan excellence near the Maroons' line, but Slater had already done the damage.
The Queenslanders then went on to a further three tries to Darius Boyd, Aidan Guerra and Cooper Cronk.
Boyd's try was like deja-vu from many of the past eight series that Queensland won on its unprecedented winning streak.
He got himself on the end of a perfect Johnathan Thurston long ball, which has been just one of the hallmarks of the Maroons' success over the previous eight series, before the Blues broke that run this year.
In the first half, some courageous Blues defence kept the visitors in the game, with a handful of last-ditch efforts denying the Maroons a healthy halftime lead.
Willed on by a near-capacity crowd, the men in maroon could only take a 6-2 lead into the sheds, thanks to some brilliant last-ditch New South Wales defence.
There were no better tackles than NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne's front-on effort on a barnstorming Corey Parker in the 28th minute.
Parker found himself in the clear with only Hayne to beat, before the Eels No.1 showed incredible strength to hold up the Broncos' lock.
Blues second-rower Beau Scott almost matched Hayne's effort just two minutes later, sliding under Boyd to stop a try he looked certain to score.
It took a moment of Daly Cherry-Evans brilliance to break open the courageous Blue wall, after the Sea Eagles playmaker was brought on from the bench.
Cherry-Evans made a bust out of nowhere in the 37th minute, before producing a beautiful inside grubber for his captain Cameron Smith, chasing through to score.
That gave the Queenslanders a slender 6-2 halftime lead.
Gallen ready to beat Maroons on home turf
DROUGHT-breaking NSW captain Paul Gallen says a third game rout of Queensland's champion side at Suncorp Stadium tonight would make lifting the State of Origin trophy in enemy territory even sweeter.
Queensland fans who hang around for the Shield presentation to Gallen, after Laurie Daley's Blues secured its first series since 2005 by taking the first two games, are sure to stick it up the Cronulla skipper who has become public enemy number one north of the border.
They will not forget how NSW fans gave Queensland's record-breaking skipper Cameron Smith the cold shoulder by leaving ANZ Stadium in droves before he accepted the Origin shield after Queensland completed the last series clean sweep in 2010.
Gallen found the prospect of being drowned out and howled down by mad maroon fans during the official presentation amusing yesterday, when he and Smith came face-to-face to launch the Rise For Alex round (July 18-21) to raise money for badly injured Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon.
"I can't wait to hold it up and I couldn't care less if there is 55,000 or five people here," said Gallen, quickly adding "I am really looking forward to it, it will be a career highlight for myself."
He said it was up to the fans if they hung around and how they reacted.
"I'm certainly not going to be worried about who's here and who's not here," he said.
The Blues skipper, who has been through more Origin heartache than any other NSW player in 18 Origins since 2006, said even though the series was wrapped up - a third-game clean sweep was, "massively important".
"We played against this Queensland side which has been blessed with all these great players, but on top of that they've been a great football side as their record reflects," said Gallen.
"To finally beat them is a truly great moment for us in history. To hold that trophy up is certainly something I am going to remember forever."
Smith countered saying Queensland wanted to give their loyal fans a win after playing below their best in the first two games against a NSW defence now known as the "Blue Wall".
Many Queensland players felt the Blues had deliberately adopted niggling tactics designed to slow down Queensland's game.
But Gallen deflected claims his team had tried to unsettle Queensland in the second Origin with unsavoury tactics, aided by a skinny 10m which kept the two sides at close quarters and stifled their attacks.
"We're not going out there to niggle anyone or give anyone cheap shots," he said.
"Whatever happens, happens. Neither team will take a backward step, that's just the way Origin is."
Gallen said much of the talk about the niggle centred on Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston who slapped NSW rival Beau Scott in the face in game two, and was also involved in a late clash with Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga confirmed he would have an 11th hour meeting with referees boss Tony Archer to be briefed on any late changes to interpretations after Shayne Hayne was replaced by rookie Gerard Sutton.