Queensland winger Dane Gagai scored three tries Wednesday, including a 90-meter intercept in the first half, to lead the Maroons to a 26-16 win over New South Wales, clinching the State of Origin rugby league series for the 10th time in 11 years.
Gagai also scored a try in the opening Origin match — won 6-4 by Queensland on June 1 in Sydney.
Queensland led 10-4 at halftime before Gagai's second try in the 47th minute was offset by a try from Tyson Frizell of New South Wales.
Gagai's third try with 17 minutes left gave Queensland a 20-10 lead, but James Maloney's intercept try for New South Wales and his conversion made it a four-point game. New South Wales then had a try which would have leveled the match called back because of a knock-on.
Corey Oates scored the clinching try for Queensland with seven minutes remaining, giving new Maroons coach Kevin Walters a series title in his first attempt.
Gagai said he'd never scored three tries in his career, even in club football.
"I think I took a few carries and the lungs were burning," Gagai said of his lengthy first try. "I was heading for the corner and I was pretty confident I was going to get there."
But Gagai also gave away four points when his attempted pass back to a teammate went directly to Maloney, who also scored on a 90-meter run. That gave the Blues a late chance, reducing the deficit to 20-16 before the disallowed try and Oates' clincher.
"In hindsight, I probably should have just taken the tackle and played it five meters out," Gagai said. "I was probably looking to do a bit too much and unfortunately it didn't come off."
New South Wales captain Paul Gallen said his side failed to capitalize on its opportunities.
"We had heaps of possession in the first half, but we didn't take advantage of it," Gallen said. "They did, we didn't, and that was the difference."
The teams will play a third match in Sydney on July 13 when Queensland will attempt to notch its fifth series sweep, with the last one coming in 2010.
It could be the last appearance for New South Wales coach Laurie Daley, whose job was reported to be in jeopardy if the Blues didn't win this year's series.