State of Origin 2016: Maroons reign again
QUEENSLAND'S champion rugby league side moved into "Black Caviar" company by winning its 10th State of Origin series win over New South Wales since 2006.
On the back of a dream hat-trick to young Newcastle flash Dane Gagai, Queensland held out a gallant Blues to wrap up the series 26-16, giving rookie coach Kevin Walters one of the biggest thrills of his rugby league life.
Gagai had been in doubt all week for his third Origin game with a quad strain.
But when he pounced on a loose ball and put the hammer down, sprinting 80metres to score in the right-hand corner, he dispelled any doubts about his decision to play.
It was a Gagai error though when he was searching for his fourth try that allowed the Blues a late comeback that had the 52,000 sellout crowd hanging off their seats.
NSW five-eighth James Maloney showed exceptional pace to out-sprint the Queensland chasers to score under the posts, setting up a grandstand finish with 13minutes remaining.
The Blues sensed an upset and were denied a try in the 70th minute by the Bunker after Michael Jennings knocked on while trying to dive on a grubber kick.
Origin's greatest try scorer Greg Inglis was pulled down centimetres short as the Blues hung on desperately.
But they could not stop the Maroon machine with young Brisbane winger Corey Oates diving over in the left-hand corner off a brilliant Darius Boyd pass following some good lead-up by Inglis.
When Thurston heaved over his 95th Origin goal Queensland were back out to 26-16.
The Blues looked to have given themselves one last roll of the dice off a bomb that Maloney picked up, only to have the Bunker rule Jennings had knocked on trying to field the kick.
Queensland has now won 12 of the past 14 games at Suncorp Stadium.
To its credit NSW - especially Maloney, Tyson Frizell, Robbie Farah in the first half and Josh Mansour - never gave up the fight but against this champion Queensland side they could not find a way home.
Again, the difference was the composure of Queensland's playmakers, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Darius Boyd, who was again magnificent at the back.
NSW now have to find a way to avoid a devastating 3-0 whitewash in Sydney early next month.
Queensland prop Josh McGuire, who was outstanding as Nate Myles' replacement, described Gagai as a "freak".
"He showed you what it is to be a Queenslander," said McGuire. "Darbs (Darius Boyd) had an outstanding series, he was one of our best."
Young NSW forward Frizell had a wonderful debut for the Blues, scoring himself and launching a great chase on Gagai in the first half.
"The try doesn't really matter. We came here to do a job and we didn't get it done," he said.
"We're not finished still got another game to go yet."