A rare hat-trick by Dane Gagai has helped Queensland claim a 26-16 win over NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, sealing a 10th State of Origin series in 11 years.
Under an injury cloud before the game, Gagai showed no sign of his quad complaint to become the seventh person in Origin history to bag three tries and prove the difference in game two.
The Blues dug deep in a bid to exorcise the demons of their 52-6 loss the last time they played at Suncorp Stadium – in game three last year.
But the Maroons again found something in front of 52,293 fans to ensure rookie coach Kevin Walters savoured victory in his first series at the helm.
“There was a little bit of pressure on the team this year given the one game at home and we fought so hard in game one to get that result (6-4 win),” Queensland captain Cameron Smith said.
“No one can ever question our effort over this period of 11 years.
“They’re a great side, the Blues, and we’re just very fortunate to get that win.
“It’s really pleasing to be able to wrap it up in two games, especially here at home.”
It also provided a fitting tribute to veteran Queensland lock Corey Parker in his final home Origin after announcing this season would be his last.
“We wanted to make it a memorable night for him tonight and I’ve seen his big smile on his face when full-time siren went,” Smith said of Parker.
The Blues showed plenty of fight to remain in contention before Corey Oates provided the knockout punch – a 73rd minute try.
But the future of NSW coach Laurie Daley and even captain Paul Gallen may yet be called into question after another series loss.
“We missed a couple of opportunities tonight and they took there’s – that was the difference,” said Gallen in his final Origin series.
“We were coming home with a wet sail but we couldn’t get those tries in the end.”
The mobile Queensland pack lifted in the absence of leader Nate Myles (knee) against the monster NSW forwards, laying the platform for the four tries to two win.
Queensland will now chase their fifth series clean sweep.
“It feels shithouse,” NSW prop Aaron Woods said.
The Maroons jumped to a 16-4 lead when Gagai crossed for his second in the 47th minute.
But unlike the last time they met in Brisbane, NSW refused to say die.
And when James Maloney snaffled up a Gagai pass and ran 90m to score in the 67th minute to make it 20-16, it was game on.
Queensland fans held their breath when Michael Jennings and rookie Tyson Frizell tried to pounce on a Maloney kick in the 71st minute – only to be disallowed for a knock on.
Not everything went to plan for Queensland.
Maroons backrower Sam Thaiday was placed on report for a 13th minute lifting tackle on Gallen.
The Blues lost Greg Bird and halfback Adam Reynolds by midway in the second half.
The Maroons have now won 10 of 12 Origin II games in Brisbane, winning seven straight since 2002.