Qld halfway to another Origin series win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Qld halfway to another Origin series win

By Steve Jancetic 26/05/2010 11:40:28 PM Comments (0)

Queensland halfback Johnathan Thurston produced his greatest Origin performance to leave what was meant to be a rejuvenated NSW side on the brink of a demoralising fifth straight series loss after engineering a 28-24 win over the Blues in Wednesday night's series opener.

Written off by critics who claimed they could not cope with the absence of perennial contributors Cameron Smith, Steve Price and Ben Hannant, Thurston lifted the Maroons onto his supposedly-dodgy shoulders over Blues side which was lost for answers.

The Queensland No.7 had a hand in all five of his side's tries at a drenched ANZ Stadium - the classy playmaker fittingly sealing the result with a one-on-one strip on Blues skipper Kurt Gidley for Sam Thaiday to make it 28-14 with 13 minutes on the clock.

NSW saved some face with debutant Jamal Idris and Ben Creagh crossing late - the final margin doing little to indicate the gap between the two sides as NSW dropped a home opener for the first time since 1998 before 68,753 fans.

"They were fantastic - (Darren) Lockyer and JT - they drove the team, gave it direction ... as a coach you couldn't wish for a better performance in trying conditions," Maroons coach Mal Meninga said.

"I thought the scoreline didn't indicate the difference between the two sides."

Thurston said the Maroons had a point to prove after critics dared to question their ability to withstand the adversity of fielding an understrength outfit against a Blues side which claimed it had found the answer to Queensland's recent Origin stranglehold with it's strongarm tactics.

"We were slow out of the blocks but got some good tries in the end," Thurston said.

"It's the Queensland way - it's our never give up attitude, this team's got a special bond.

"They keep writing us off with no (Cameron) Smith, (Steve) Price, (Ben) Hannant - we love it."

Lockyer, who is now eyeing a fairytale Origin farewell with the Maroons in line to wrap up the series on home soil in three weeks, said he was stunned at Thurston's ability to deliver the goods.

"He's done very well considering the amount of footy he's played in the last month, to come here tonight and play like that - it's a testament to how good he is," Lockyer said.

Blues coach Craig Bellamy said he wouldn't hit the panic button, but admitted the performance left him scratching his head.

"It seemed a little bit like groundhog day tonight," he said.

"We all know how good a team they are, there's no hiding from that fact, so if we're going to get them, we're going to have to get better.

"They ain't going to come down, they aren't going to drop their standards so we need to raise ours.

"I thought this was the most talented team that I'd coached in Origin in honest - we've just got to get a bit of grit to that talent."

The anticipated fiery start never eventuated as NSW attacked with bombs rather than their fists, and it paid dividends when a desperate Anthony Watmough kick was spilled by Darius Boyd with Jarryd Hayne pouncing for a 6-0 lead to the home side.

Showing the grit that had seen them win four straight series, the Maroons weathered the storm and a Matt Cooper spill was all the invitation Thurston needed as he fashioned a try out of nothing with a amazing offload for Boyd to level the scores.

A dubious penalty allowed the Blues to kick ahead before that man Thurston returned to haunt the hosts when a deft infield kick which was swooped upon by Billy Slater for his eighth Origin try.

Hayne denied Inglis a try just before halftime, but the Maroons were soon celebrating again when a superb David Shillington offload to Lockyer made it 16-8 eight minutes into the second half.

Anthony Watmough closed the gap to four points but the Maroons were not to be denied with Thurston sending Greg Inglis away to continue the avalanche.

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