Queensland stuns New South Wales in State of Origin Game III

Queensland has stunned New South Wales 20-18 in State of Origin Game III on the Gold Coast, denying the Blues an historic series sweep.

A second half double from Ben Hunt and some stunning, resolute defence in the final ten minutes kept the Blues at bay in a vastly improved performance from the Maroons.

The Blues, missing their star halves pairing of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, were left to rue a missed opportunity to record a first Origin sweep since 2000.

Queensland opened the scoring thanks to the boot of Valentine Holmes, but it was the Blues who crossed the line first.

Latrell Mitchell, at his brilliant best as he had been all series, scooted over after a flowing Blues move out to the left, which saw the Rabbitohs man step inside club teammate, Dane Gagai to go over untouched.

Latrell Mitchell coasted over for the first try of the game for New South Wales.(

Getty images: Chris Hyde


The Maroons hit back almost instantly through debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

The Cowboys flier was sent over by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who burst through a gap after a lovely run from dummy half by Cameron Munster, offloading to Tabuai-Fidow, who dived over unopposed.

The Blues were perhaps fortunate to only go into the sheds two points down after some sensational goal line defence, with Queensland camped on their line after the Blues gave away repeat penalties.

Having weathered that storm at the end of the first half though, the Blues struck first in the second period, Jack Wighton bullying his way over to hand NSW the lead.

However, Hunt, who had been superb for Queensland since being overlooked for the opening game of the series, scored twice to hand the Maroons an eight-point lead.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Daly Cherry-Evans and Dane Gagai hug and smile
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, right, scored the Maroons opening try on debut.(

Getty Images: Bradley Kanaris


Apisai Korosau crossed with little over ten minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish as the Blues repeatedly pounded on the Maroons line, only to be thwarted time and time again. 

Mitchell almost sent the game to golden point with a long range penalty in the final minute, but his booming kick fell just short, handing the Maroons the ball, and the victory.

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FULL-TIME: Queensland wins 20-18!!


Josh Papalii drives Jack Wighton into the ground and that ends the series. The series really ended with a big old scuffle for no apparent reason, but Queensland has salvaged some pride.

It’s more proof that there’s no such thing as dead rubber in Origin. That was a thrilling game.

By Jon Healy

Congratulations NSW and I’ll see you all later


Well, it may not have been the most interesting Origin series, but at least it ended on a high note with an excellent contest.

NSW is really onto something here and it feels like they’ll be the dominant force for a long time to come, with Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Payne Haas all young superstars.

But Queensland has shown some flashes and has some young guns of their own coming through – think Reece Walsh and Sam Walker – so the contest is well and truly alive and kicking.

As for us, we’ll be back for a slew of Olympics blogs in the coming weeks, because that thing starts in *checks watch* nine days.

Have a good one, and we’ll see you ’round the bend.

By Jon Healy

‘It’s hard to be too excited’: Fittler

“That was their best game. Given what they’ve gone through, with some distractions, they were outstanding. We got beaten [but] with two minutes to go we had the ball down on their line, we never gave up.”

On the performance of his new halves pairing:

“Jack Wighton scored a great try. Mitch Moses set up a great kick for Api Koroisau. I thought they both played really well. Their defence was outstanding. I was really happy with both of them.”

But he admitted it was an awkward celebration after a loss:

“It’s hard to be too excited. In time I’ll work it out.”

Paul Gallen can sympathise, although he said his situation lifting the shield in 2014 after a big loss in Game III wasn’t exactly the same.

“I’d lost eight series previous to that, so it was a little bit different.”

By Jon Healy

Ben Hunt is man of the match

That’s an interesting call. He was brilliant and he’s truly one of my favourite players but I thought Ponga would get it solely for the flashier plays.

I can’t disagree with Hunt though, he was brilliant.

Aside from those two, Josh Papalii, Moeaki Fotuaika, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Francis Molo were brilliant.

By Jon Healy

Kick, push and shove

If all the energy used in the ridiculous push and shoves was instead used to play football it would make for good football. The worst offenders- Munster, Mitchell, and Gagai.

-Rinse, repeat

I get the whole ‘mate vs mate’ thing. They’re club teammates and good friends. A bit of it is fine, but when it’s every tackle it really is exhausting to watch.

By Jon Healy

How good is Kalyn Ponga?

Blues legend Andrew Johns says he’s an “out-and-out superstar”.

“This is a once-in-a-generation player.

“Remember, he’s had a groin injury, he’s hardly trained in two months.”

Former Jillaroo Allana Ferguson and league great Peter Sterling agree he was the big difference for Queensland.

By Jon Healy

Latrell Mitchell wraps up his spectacular series

On being an NRL fullback but an Origin centre: 

“It’s just different roles. I enjoy coming here and defending and being around such good players.”

On his constant back and forth with South Sydney teammate Dane Gagai:

“I love Gags. I don’t show no respect on the field. He’s my teammate, but in this arena we’re not mates.”

On the game-tying shot falling short:

“I think my shorts are a bit tight ey. I couldn’t get my legs through. Everyone dreams of doing that kick, but it is what it is.”

By Jon Healy

Comments from you

The worst players in the NSW team, tedesco, Carr, Moses, wighton, amongst a few, should not have been there

-Bill Croucher

By Jon Healy

Tom Trbojevic is the player of the series


“I’d like to say a big thank you to the state government for doing what it took to get this game going.

“To Queensland, you were too good tonight. And to our boys, it’s been an absolute pleasure doing this with you.”

Daly Cherry-Evans and James Tedesco have also taken the time to thank the state governments for all the logistics that it took to actually host these games.

By Jon Healy

What a strange feeling


No doubt the Queenslanders are thrilled with that win. It was hands-down their best performance of the series and, most importantly, stopped the clean sweep. But a lot of the issues that saw them outscored 76-6 in the first two games are still there. They could have been torn to shreds a few times in that game and you felt like they just held on by the narrowest margin.

NSW, meanwhile, just lost a State of Origin game, which is never a good feeling. But they also get to lift the shield at the end of the series. Players have spoken about an empty feeling doing that after a loss, but I’m sure that will fade before too long and give way to genuine elation at what the Blues have pulled off this year. 

By Jon Healy

Hearing from Game III heroes

Kalyn Ponga and Ben Hunt, two players who missed that humiliating 50-6 loss in the first game, were the best players out there tonight.


“Just stoked with that effort and glad we could bounce back.

“They were all over us and we just stuck in there.

“We had a lot to play for even though the series was gone. A lot of pride on the line.”


“[The end of the game] was chaos. My back end was hanging out. When Welchy gave away that penalty I wanted to kill him.

“Kalyn Ponga [was the difference] for me. He’s an exceptional talent. He made [our attack] really crisp and directed our forwards around.”

By Jon Healy

80th minute: NSW will get one play. With four seconds left.

By Jon Healy

79th minute: MITCHELL MISSES!! It was right on line but he didn’t have the distance.

By Jon Healy

77th minute: Big Tino makes a great run, Munster follows it up with a booming bomb, and it’s backed up by Capewell’s chase. NSW has to go 90 metres.

Huge penalty for NSW! Moses tries a very ill-advised grubber and Welch hits him high. Oh no.

The Blues are going for goal to tie the game! From 50 metres out!!

By Jon Healy

76th minute: The cross-field kick goes up and Trbojevic has all the advantage over Brimson, but like To’o, the smaller man makes enough contact to make life difficult, and Liam Martin knocks on the bat-back.

By Jon Healy

75th minute: This is it. This is the set.

Welch wraps up Tedesco. He’s so strong. How many tackles can one man break?

By Jon Healy

74th minute: Two extra sets as Queensland hands touch NSW offloads.

Ben Hunt makes a try-saver on Cam Murray on the line.

The Queensland scramble is on point here.

Tedesco kicks into the in-goal and Brimson takes the ball dead. He had a clear grab on it and could have maybe made some ground, but the fumble cost him.

By Jon Healy

73rd minute: TRBOJEVIC BREAKS THROUGH!! But Ponga cuts off the pass. Huge try-saver by the Knight.

By Jon Healy

72nd minute: The Maroons have to work off their own line after a monstrous boot from Moses.

Cherry-Evans ends the set by trying to smack one into touch but it finds To’o. I don’t think that’s negative tactics. I think the Maroons are just knackered after all that defending.

By Jon Healy

71st minute: It’s 20-18 to the Maroons as we enter the final 10 minutes. Set up for a classic finish.

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