1st State of Origin: New South Wales beats Queensland 28-4
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne scored one of New South Wales' five tries in a 28-4 win over Queensland in the first rugby league State of Origin match on Wednesday.
New South Wales can secure only its second series victory since 2006 if it beats the Maroons at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney on June 21. The third match is in Brisbane on July 12.
Queensland was missing four of its biggest stars because of injury or retirement. One of those was North Queensland Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston, whose streak of 36 consecutive Origin matches ended because of a shoulder injury.
Andrew Fifita and James Tedesco were strong in attack for New South Wales, both scoring tries as the Blues posted their first win at Lang Park in an Origin opener since their most-recent series victory in 2014. Fifita ran for 175 meters and made 21 tackles and was named man of the match.
Fifita's try in the 55th minute, which followed Tedesco's four-pointer, ended any hope of a Queensland comeback. Fifita also had a try assist in the first half to give Blues the first points of the match when James Maloney crossed for a try.
Mitchell Pearce, who left the field in the second half because of a concussion, also scored for the Blues, as did Hayne, who was making his first Origin appearance since 2014 following his one-year stint in the NFL with San Francisco.
Corey Oates scored a try in the 35th minute for Queensland, which has won 10 of the past 11 series.
"It's an unreal feeling. To come up here and win anytime, it's a tough feat," New South Wales captain Boyd Cordner said.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith said it was a disappointing performance.
"Our defense, I think, let us down," Smith said. "Back to the drawing board ... the challenge gets a little bit harder now."