New South Wales 18-20 Queensland: Hunt at the double as Maroons restore some pride

By Sports Desk July 14, 2021

Queensland avoided the humiliation of clean sweep in the State of Origin series as Ben Hunt's second-half double secured a 20-18 victory over New South Wales.

The Blues have been forced to play all three matches in Queensland due to coronavirus restrictions but made light of that apparent disadvantage by romping to 50-6 and 26-0 victories in the first two games.

Tuesday's encounter at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast proved to be a far more evenly contested affair, with Hunt's quickfire brace proving decisive when Latrell Mitchell fell short with a late long-range penalty that would have grabbed a draw.

Mitchell was also to the fore early on and it looked like being the same old story when he stepped into Damien Cook's pass and unfurled some deft footwork for a sixth try in seven State of Origin appearances, although the Blues' advantage was short-lived.

Queensland had led through Valentine Holmes' early penalty and he added the extras after 19-year-old debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow capitalised upon fine work from Cameron Munster and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui's offload.

New South Wales went back ahead three minutes into the second half when five-eighth Jack Wighton dummied a pass and burst through to score.

Hunt then took centre-stage to decisively turn the contest – first staying low from dummy-half and sneaking under a pair of tackles to touch down, then rounding off a thrilling spell of Queensland pressure in the 65th minute.

Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans joined Holmes in going two from two from the kicking tee, making it 20-12, though such breathing space was short-lived.

Replacement hooker Api Koroisau latched on to Mitchell Moses' grubber in the 68th minute to set up a grandstand finish.

With two minutes to go, Mitchell took on a penalty from halfway to try to level the scores – he struck it cleanly but fell short in terms of distance and Queensland were able to hang on.

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