Joey gets the jump on Maroons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Joey gets the jump on Maroons

By Brent Read 11/06/2003 11:00:17 PM Comments (0)

Andrew Johns shook off a controversial build-up to suck the life out of Queensland as NSW won the opening State of Origin match 25-12.

The NSW captain and world's best player erased any lingering doubts over his form with a dominant display at Suncorp Stadium, silencing a crowd of 52,420 who were in the mood for a Maroons' celebration.

Johns - 10 days after leading Newcastle to a shock win over Brisbane at the official opening of the redeveloped ground - had a hand in all four NSW tries, scoring one himself and adding a critical field goal eight minutes from fulltime.

It was an inspired performance, coming off a preparation which started with Johns and coach Phil Gould feuding publicly after Gould had told Johns he wasn't playing well enough.

Queensland now faces an almost impossible task to retain the Origin shield, with only three sides since the concept began in 1980 coming back from an opening game loss to win the series.

And the Maroons will almost certainly have to do it without centre Justin Hodges, whose Origin nightmare continued when he left the field in the 47th minute with a potential season-ending knee injury.

Queensland will also have only two weeks to find a way to stop NSW's one-man wrecking machine - Johns.

The 29-year-old scored a match-sealing try in the 74th minute and set up two for rookie fullback Anthony Minichiello.

He also kicked a decisive field goal in the 72nd minute to give NSW a seven-point lead in an Origin classic, as Queensland wilted without the services of Paul Bowman (knee) and Hodges in the second half.

"When he was needed, cometh the man, cometh the hour," NSW coach Phil Gould said of Johns.

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