Queensland are State of Origin champions again after one of the most dramatic series finishes in the history of the famous rivalry.
Queensland were considered the biggest underdogs since 1995, but showed ridiculous fight to outlast the Blues 20-14 in a thrilling grandstand finish.
Wily coach Wayne Bennett’s fingerprints were on everything as his team of rag-tag players sprung an almighty ambush against the odds.
Bennett may have been the mastermind of the upset, but Cameron Munster was the executioner. For NSW, he was the grim reaper – wreaking havoc across the field.
Munster and debutant Harry Grant were the clear standouts for the Maroons – and another red-hot performance saw Munster awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as the player of the series despite being knocked unconscious in the second game.
Queensland had to show incredible bravery to hold on in a wild final four minutes after the Maroons were reduced to 12 men following the sin-binning of fullback Corey Allan.
Their victory was tarnished somewhat by a final siren farce that saw NSW launch a referee challenge as Queensland players were already celebrating the famous win. It was even more perplexing when the NRL bunker announced the challenge was successful.
The Blues challenged a knock-on from Joseph Paulo, claiming the ball had been stripped – but replays showed the forward had simply lost possession as he tried to pass it.
Replays then showed Maroons hooker Jake Friend knocked the ball on as he tried to pick up Paulo’s pass – which is the reason why the NSW challenge was successful – but because it wasn’t a penalty, full time was called and the series was over.
The decision was finally reached after several dramatic minutes where both teams were left nervously waiting around on the field.
A worried Phil Gould declared the game was over despite the threat of another video referee blunder.
“It’s all moot. He tries to pass it. He tries to pass it. Game over,” Gould said before the bunker announced its decision.
“It’s not going to make any difference because the clock’s gone.”
In the end, nothing could take the win away from the Maroons and when the dust settled they were eventually confirmed victors.
Sanity prevailed and the State of Origin Shield is Queensland’s for another 12 months.
Despite the late drama, the Maroons were celebrating the sweetest of victories led by playmaking superstar Munster.
Earlier, in the first half, the game was turned on its head by the sickening moment Blues captain James Tedesco was knocked out cold.
It was just one of many hugely dramatic moments.
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