New South Wales 22, Queensland 12 in 1st State of Origin
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — New South Wales scored the final three tries of the match Wednesday to beat Queensland 22-12 and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three State of Origin rugby league series.
The Blues held an 8-6 lead at halftime and fell behind early in the second half, but powered home. Rookies Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr, among 11 newcomers in the New South Wales squad, scored tries for the winners before 87,122 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
New South Wales hadn't fielded such a large group of first-time players in 37 years.
Fullback James Tedesco scored the opening try for New South Wales and was named man of the match.
"I knew we had a young team but all the boys on debut really dug in deep," Tedesco said.
Winger Dane Gagai's converted try three minutes into the second half gave Queensland a brief 12-8 lead, but that was the end of the scoring for the Maroons.
On Monday, veteran fullback Billy Slater was ruled out of the Queensland lineup with a hamstring injury. The Queensland squad was already without captain Cameron Smith and playmakers Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, who have retired from representative rugby league and left them without players who had appeared in 151 Origin matches.
Fullback Greg Inglis took over as captain of the Queensland team which included three players on debut.
"I can't fault all the effort, it has been terrific," Inglis said. "I think that's what Origin is all about — key moments. Little things cost us in the second half."
Queensland has won 11 of the last 12 Origin series, with New South Wales breaking the sequence with a 2-1 series win in 2014.
The second game of the series is scheduled for June 24 in Sydney and the third on July 11 in Brisbane.