Queensland beats New South Wales 6-4 in 1st State of Origin
Queensland scored the go-ahead try with three minutes remaining in the first half, then held on through a scoreless second half for a 6-4 win over New South Wales in the opening State of Origin rugby league match on Wednesday.
Queensland has won the Origin series nine out of the past 10 years. But New South Wales had won six of the previous eight matches at the Olympic Stadium, where a near-capacity crowd of 80,251 watched the tight defensive match featuring numerous jarring tackles and hard hits in the most anticipated league series of the year.
Johnathan Thurston gave Queensland a 2-0 lead with a penalty goal in the 15th minute, but New South Wales took the lead in the 25th minute when back rower Boyd Cordner crossed for a try.
Queensland went ahead for good in the 37th when winger Dane Gagai, after quick passes from halfback Cooper Cronk and Thurston, scored in the right corner.
"We knew it was going to be tough here, but we backed each other," said Queensland captain Cameron Smith, who was making his record 37th appearance in an Origin match, breaking former teammate Darren Lockyer's mark.
New South Wales center Josh Morris replaced the injured Josh Dugan, who has a left elbow injury which requires surgery.
Cronk started for Queensland after recovering from an ankle injury, and it was an important inclusion — Queensland has lost both games Cronk has not started at halfback since he earned the No. 7 Origin jersey in 2012.
It was the first match in charge by Queensland coach Kevin Walters, who replaced Mal Meninga when Meninga was given the Australian coaching position.
Queensland can clinch the series on June 22 in Brisbane. The third match is back in Sydney on July 13.