A Michael Jennings try with 78 seconds remaining has given NSW captain Paul Gallen victory in his final State of Origin match, the Blues winning game three 18-14 at ANZ Stadium.
The Blues dominated much of Wednesday night’s contest before 61,267 fans but a Darius Boyd try with five minutes to go from a Cooper Cronk bomb – that Josh Mansour failed to catch after slipping – looked to have given Queensland the win.
But Jennings crashed over after a long run from James Tedesco following a Blake Ferguson break had given the Blues field possession the tackle before.
The win prevented a cleansweep by the Maroons in lock Corey Parker’s final game, with Queensland winning the series 2-1.
“That feels great,” Gallen told the Nine Network.
“The effort was there during the series but we lacked execution. Thankfully for us, we did it tonight.”
Jennings said the Blues were delighted to send Gallen out a winner.
“It was a pleasure to send Gal out like that,” he said.
“We can look forward to next year with some positivity now.”
It was spiteful game in which Cooper Cronk and Andrew Fifita were sin-binned.
Greg Inglis crossed for the opening try in just the fifth minute after dropped balls from Robbie Farah and Ferguson put the Blues under early pressure.
But for much of the first half thereafter, the Blues were dominant but failed to take advantage.
The home side enjoyed a 9-1 penalty count in their favour and 32 tackles in the opposition 20 to six. Cronk’s deserved sin-binning in the 31st minute for taking out Wade Graham as he chased through a James Maloney kick gave the Blues a one-man advantage they could not capitalise on.
The Blues’ only try in the opening stanza came through Tyson Frizell when the St George Illawarra star crashed over from short range after a long ball from James Maloney and an offload from Gallen opened up the Maroons’ defence.
The game opened up after the break.
A Fifita try put the Blues further ahead in the 41st minute before Gavin Cooper grabbed one back for the Maroons in the 52nd minute. Fifita was binned for reacting after Cooper threw the ball at Moylan after the try.
Boyd’s try then looked to have grabbed another last-gasp win for Queensland but the Blues dug deep to send Gallen out a winner.
Gallen converted Jennings’ try after the bell.
Matt Moylan started in the halves, after much deliberation as to who would be the Blues’ No.6, alongside James Maloney.
Jack Bird played much of the second half in the centres after Josh Dugan went off with a jaw injury.
Frizell, Josh Jackson and Maloney were among the Blues’ best, while Wade Graham and James Tedesco impressed on debut.
Cameron Smith led the way again for Queensland and was named man of the series.