Queensland beat New South Wales 34-24 to secure a record-extending sixth straight State of Origin rugby league title and send retiring captain Darren Lockyer out as a winner.
Greg Inglis touched down twice as the Maroons outscored the Blues by six tries to four last night at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. Queensland now holds a 16-12 lead in Australia’s annual interstate contest.
Sam Thaiday, Cameron Smith, Jharal Yow Yeh and Billy Slater also scored tries for Queensland, which raced out to a 24-0 first-half lead. Johnathan Thurston kicked four conversions.
“I’ve never been so nervous, it’s a relief,” Lockyer, 34, said in a televised interview with the Nine Network. “It’s a nice way to finish. It has been a great journey.”
Lockyer is retiring from the sport at the end of the 2011 National Rugby League season, ending his record-setting 17-year career. He was given a special trophy after the match to honor his contribution to State of Origin, where he captained the Maroons in 22 of his 36 games.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Lockyer said at the presentation ceremony before the crowd of 52,498. “I’ll never forget these times playing for Queensland. It’s been a privilege to play for you.”
Anthony Minichiello, Akuila Uate, Jarryd Hayne and Greg Bird touched down for New South Wales, while Jamie Soward kicked eight points. The Blues, who sent the best-of-three contest to the decider with an 18-8 win in Sydney last month, last won a series in 2005.
“It’s pretty shattering,” NSW captain Paul Gallen told Nine Network. “We came here really confident. We gave them a head start and they just got too far in front.”
The Blues scored two late first-half tries to pull within 24-10 at the break. Slater touched down in the 65th minute and Inglis added his second try four minutes later to extend the lead to 34-10. New South Wales then scored the final 14 points of the game.
Inglis’s final score, where he fought off four defenders to power over, lifted him to 12 career tries, tying the Origin record held by Dale Shearer. Thurston left the game in the 60th minute with a knee injury following a collision with Ashley Harrison.