The final score 18-4 to the Blues.
Greg Bird and Paul Gallen were the missing ingredient for a much enthused NSW Blues side. All the talk about the two Cronulla Sharks players injecting some physical punch – was right on the mark. Bird could really not be faulted. He ripped through Queensland with his tackles and finally the Blues had someone that the Maroons had to peek at – as they hit the ball up. Bird was so impressive at pivot, that teammate Adam Dykes may lose his spot at the Sharks. NRL News had Greg Bird for man of the match by a long shot.
Gallen was in a similar mood, passionate all game and setting up the final try.
With second phase play the plan for the NSW Blues, many errors saw them apply plenty of pressure to themselves. Fortunately rock solid defence kept them on top and the petrol was in the tank at the end – as Queensland had 4 players out of the game with injury.
Probably the only NSW player to have an off night was halfback Brett Kimmorley who was pulled from the field with 25 minutes to go – the Sharks halfback surely had injury niggles as he wasn’t at his sharpest tonight and had trainers check him over early in the night.
Jarryd Hayne had another stunning match out wide, defusing every bomb and working in small spaces in attack to score a brilliant first try. The combination with Matt Cooper was impressive, as both players were always in sync.
Debutant Hazem El Masri also impressed, providing perfection with his conversions and not letting anyone down with his defence.
Finally the NSW forwards get the last lot of kudos – with Willie Mason shining at prop, busting the line most times and regularly offloading. Kite impressed, as did the under pressure Luke Bailey.
The pressure really was on this NSW side, and that probably helped them in the end. They simply wanted this game much more than the Maroons. Their physical approach used by Qld in games 1 and 2 – was incorporated by NSW and this ultimately won them the match. Queensland weren’t durable enough to handle the heat and this eroded their reserves as the night wore on.
It sets the scene for another good series next year, with the claimed Queensland dynasty certainly beatable.
New South Wales 18
Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Matt King, Hazem El Masri
Blues: Hazem El Masri 3
Queensland Maroons 4
Tries: Justin Hodges
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Paul Simpkins