IT came down to two moments of madness. Two brain explosions that cost Brad Fittler's Baby Blues their first State of Origin clean sweep in 18 years.

The culprits were Canterbury Bulldogs front-rower Dave Klemmer and Dragons forward Tariq Sims with two unforgivable acts of ill-discipline to give away penalties while the Blues had possession in a desperately tight game.

Sims, in a regulation play-the-ball, tackled the marker Ben Hunt. Just ridiculous.

David Klemmer ran strongly but a stupid penalty gave Queensland a leg up at a crucial time. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
David Klemmer ran strongly but a stupid penalty gave Queensland a leg up at a crucial time. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Maroons already had a 6-1 penalty advantage and didn't need any more help.

Not long afterwards Klemmer stupidly tripped Hunt with Blues pressing the Maroons line.

In a match this close, it probably meant the difference between winning and losing.

In the end it was a lesson for the Baby Blues.

That discipline at this level of football is as important skill.

 

Tariq Sims cost New South Wales by tackling Ben Hunt without the ball.
Tariq Sims cost New South Wales by tackling Ben Hunt without the ball.

It was absolutely miraculous that NSW were even in the game at halftime, let alone leading 12-8.

The Maroons had all the possession, or 70 per cent of it.

The Blues couldn't buy a penalty, not until the 39th minute.

QLD seriously had enough of the territory and football to be ahead by 20.

When James Maloney was sin-binned 10 minutes before halftime and Holmes kicked the goal to give the Maroons an 8-nil lead, you'd think the Blues would have been happy to hang on until halftime.

Then Tom Trbojevic latched onto a wayward Cameron Munster pass to run 90 metres to score.

He streaked away at 35.2 kph, the fastest of any player in the game.

James Tedesco scores just before halftime. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
James Tedesco scores just before halftime. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

And then James Tedesco charged through a gaping hole to touch down on halftime.

Un-bloody-believable.

A halftime lead built on the most extraordinary defence and then somehow having the energy to grab those two tries.

"As good as I've ever seen," said former Blues skipper Paul Gallen on Channel 9.

In the 23rd minute James Maloney made the most incredible try-saver on Felise Kaufusi.

And this is a player who regularly tops the missed tackle count in the NRL.

James Maloney is given his marching orders. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
James Maloney is given his marching orders. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Three minutes later Cleary makes an equally magnificent try-saver on Corey Oates.

The most inspirational stuff you will ever see.

Jake Trbojevic 28 tackles in those opening 40 minutes. Paul Vaughan almost cut Jai Arrow in half, forcing an error when the Blues desperately needed some football.

But all the first-half defence appeared to be taking its toll on the Blues.

Cook and Klemmer missed Munster who passed to Gavin Cooper and then Cherry-Evans for the try.

The crowd was 51,240, below the 52,500 capacity, but a great turn out for a dead rubber.

And the players didn't let them down. It was a classic State of Origin contest.

Tom Trbojevic streaks away to run the length of the field and score against the Blues. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Tom Trbojevic streaks away to run the length of the field and score against the Blues. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

HIGHLIGHT

Back to the club footy. Two Friday night games. A level playing field with full strength sides. And a competition so open that any of half a dozen sides could win. Carn the Sharkies.

LOWLIGHT

Having to say goodbye to the great Billy Slater, probably the only Queenslander ever adored and idolised even by NSW Blues supporters.

Bring on a full round of NRL footy. Buzz is looking forward to seeing the Sharkies in action. . Picture: Brett Costello
Bring on a full round of NRL footy. Buzz is looking forward to seeing the Sharkies in action. . Picture: Brett Costello


SHOOSH

Which QLD Maroons star will return to his club to ask his coach for a release from his contract at the end of the season?

SPOTTED

Former Blues coach and Sky Sport Radio Big Breakfast host Laurie Daley staying in the same hotel as the QLD Maroons in Brisbane.

SPOTTED

Probably the smallest halfback in rugby league history, former Dragons star Mark Shulman, enjoying a beer in the Caxton Hotel. A Ramsgate junior, Shulman is now 67.

Thanks for all the memories, Billy. Pic Peter Wallis
Thanks for all the memories, Billy. Pic Peter Wallis

SPOTTED

Cronulla Sharks skipper and NSW veteran watching the Blues training session at Coogee on Sunday before the team flew to Brisbane.

STARS AT THE STAR

The NSW Blues will hold a with Origin fans at The Star casino's event centre from 1pm on Thursday. Kids under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. It's a fantastic school holiday chance to meet the players, see the shield and get selfies and autographs.

JOKE'S ON MAROONS

We had a chuckle of this offering on social media yesterday.

FIFA: We will give free tickets to the World Cup final to those 12 teenagers and their coach for being stuck in a cave.

Thailand: Thank you so much

NRL: Yes! And we will give them free tickets to State of Origin 3 and a free commemorative Maroons jersey.

Thailand: No those poor lads have suffered enough thank you.

ALL BETS ARE OFF

Bookmakers hate State of Origin dead-rubbers as much as television executives wanting good ratings and administrators trying to sell tickets. The TAB and corporate bookmaker holdings were down by almost $4 million on Origin III. The fact punters have splurged so much money on the soccer World Cup also hurt the Origin figures.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Billy Slater is an all-time great rugby league player and possibly even a future immortal.

But the decision to name him as the Wally Lewis Medal winner as player of the series at Suncorp Stadium was a farce.

Take nothing away from this champion fullback but what were the Australian selectors Darren Lockyer and Laurie Daley thinking?

Damien Cook would have been a better choice as man of the series. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Damien Cook would have been a better choice as man of the series. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Even the man-of-the-match award should have gone to halfback Daly Cherry Evans ahead of the champion Melbourne Storm fullback.

This was a decision that appears to have been made on the emotion of Slater's final game.

A decision that sent social media into meltdown with NSW Blues fans rightly questioning how the award had gone to the Maroons skipper. He also only played two games in the series.

Surely James Tedesco, Damien Cook or Boyd Cordner from the series-winning Blues side would have been better choices for the Wally Lewis Medal.

SLATER GREAT BUT HE'S NO KING WALLY

BILLY Slater walked off Suncorp Stadium after his final game for Queensland to generate a debate about his standing among the all-time State of Origin greats.

One thing we can be sure of is that Slater is the best fullback to play in the series over four decades.

Some, like Channel 9's veteran commentator Ray Warren, say he's the best fullback of all time - a massive statement considering ­Immortals Clive Churchill and Graeme Langlands wore the number one jersey. We've picked our dozen best Origin players since 1980 and Slater comes in at number eight.

Phil Rothfield says Wally Lewis is the greatest Origin player of all time.
Phil Rothfield says Wally Lewis is the greatest Origin player of all time.

What a player in an Origin career that began in 2004 and finished with his 31st game on Wednesday night

A career highlighted by the miraculous chip-and-chase try in Origin II, 2004, at Suncorp Stadium that gave the Maroons a 22-18 win.

Getting a list of Origin legends down to 12 players is as difficult as it gets.

We put King Wally Lewis on top because of his stunning domination against some of the best sides NSW ever produced.

He was narrowly ahead of John­athan Thurston, Cameron Smith and then Andrew Johns.

The Maroons finished with seven of the top 12.

The easy part was getting the likes of Slater in. Much easier than leaving out players of the calibre of Brett Kenny, Greg Inglis and Steve Mortimer.

 

 

360 VIEW

Catch you tonight for a special State of Origin edition of NRL 360 with Ben Ikin and Paul Kent to discuss the biggest issues from the final game of the series with special guests Greg 'Brandy' Alexander and Kevvie Walters.



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