Scrum-half Cooper Cronk was the toast of Queensland as they won the deciding match against New South Wales to extend their record with a seventh straight State of Origin trophy.
The 29 year-old hit a brilliant 40 metre drop goal four minutes from time to seal a 21-20 victory after their opponents made a gallant second-half fight back. “I can’t put it into words,” Cronk said in a televised interview. “This is why you play football.”
Having forced the game into a decider following a 16-12 win in Sydney last month, New South Wales were quietly confident of upsetting the Maroons impressive record. The Maroons have won 15 of the 21 matches since starting their unprecedented run of success in 2006 and hold a 17-12 lead in Australia’s annual interstate series.
The Blues hit the ground running with Todd Carney touching down for the first try, adding to his earlier penalty.
Queensland struck back when Darius Boyd took a cut-out pass from Jonathon Thurston to score his ninth Origin try, before Thurston himself went over for a score. That score put him second in the all-time top scorer list for the club, second only to coach Mal Meninga. Another try had Queensland 18-6 up at half time and seemingly coasting to victory.
The Blues came out attacking in the second half and Brett Stewart won a footrace to ground Robbie Farah’s kick through. Carney and Thurston exchanged penalties, before the visitors struck with ten minutes left through Brett Morris. He collected Farah’s pinpoint kick, and Carney’s touchline conversion levelled the game.
Cronk however was to have the final say in the game, though the Blues did manage to work a drop-goal situation of their own, but Mitchell Pearce saw his attempt drift wide in the last minute.
For prop Petero Civoniceva it was a particularly emotional occasion, who retired after 33 Origin games. “I’m just so happy for Queensland,” he said afterwards. “There’s a lot of spirit in this team and it was on show tonight.”