It may go down as one of the closely contested series since Origin started in 1980, as both NSW and QLD fought valiantly, vying for the series win – but ultimately, it was QLD who came out on top, on the back of a monster field goal in regulation time, from Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk.
With the game in the dying minutes, and QLD camped 45m out from their own line, the ball came to Cronk on the last tackle, and he calmly slotted home the winner – with retiring QLD prop Petero Civoniceva not surprised that to see Cronk kicking the field goal from where he did.
“Last night (Tuesday) here at training, I think he hit three or four in a row from that same spot,” said Civoniceva.
“I guess it was a good omen,” he added with his trademark broad grin.
With the game in the balance for quite some time, following a try in the 70th minute for NSW centre Josh Morris, Civoniceva says that his side had to fight for their win.
“We had to fight all the way for it,” said Civoniceva who carved out 101 bruising metres in his swan song.
“I’m just so grateful for the effort from the boys – they were just tremendous tonight.
“We were up against a fantastic NSW team and we were under immense pressure tonight without Billy Slater and we found a way to win.”
For the retiring veteran, he will remember this series as one of the toughest that he has ever played.
“The pride and the passion within this Queensland team, we had a few hurdles to get over during the week, we lost a few key men but found a way to win which is an indication of our spirit,” he said.
For Cronk himself, when you kick a field goal, worrying about the clock is the last thing on your mind – you simply worry about the field goal.
“You don’t really think too much, the clock’s winding down,” Cronk said of his sharply taken match-winner. “It’s why you do the practice I think.”
For NSW, their five-eighth Todd Carney, who had perhaps his best game of the entire series, said that loss was another blow for NSW, as they failed to get the win.
We worked so hard as a group, it’s just shattering,” Carney said.
“I’ve never experienced this or felt like this after a game. It’s heartbreaking really.”
For captain Paul Gallen, who switched from his usual position of lock to prop a few times in the game, despite being asked whether or not the Blues will take pride in their performance for pushing QLD to the limit – the rep forward replied sternly:
“It doesn’t say pride on the trophy.
“It’s on again next year and we’ll be ready to go then. It was seriously a cracking game of footy.
Despite some rather speculative calls in the eyes of fans from the referees, Gallen said that he would not be blaming the referees for the loss.
“I can’t blame the refs for anything,” he said.
“There was another call when they said they’d check a strip at the scrum, and then they didn’t.
“But then we had a call go our way.
“There was nothing from the refs that cost either team, it was just a cracking game.”
“It was the best game of footy I have played in. It was unfortunate one team had to lose.”