Blues inspire our state with a win from the heart
IT WAS a last minute salvation from the Blues which could have typified the whole series: a victorious everywhere man James Tedesco once again over the line, just in time.
But it wasn't just the fleet-footed custodian who brought the ANZ crowd of 82,500 to its feet by suddenly giving the state its first back-to-back series win in 14 years.
It was also Mitchell Pearce - that most maligned of NSW No. 7s - but also coach Brad Fittler and every one of his players who had been in an Origin decider.
Hell, here was a night where an entire state earned redemption.
Gone forever that Banana-bender taunt going something like: "One. In. A. Row".
And for 14 years, the Blues were aptly named.
And so it seemed again last night.
Right until, with under 30 seconds to play, Pearce threw a long ball that found Tom Trbojevic, who found Blake Ferguson and eventually fullback James Tedesco.
And Teddy, he scored.
Of course, he did.
It was a moment made especially sweet for the boys from rugby league's heartland - the Singleton Greyhounds under-12 team who made it to the Sydney Olympic Park arena only two weeks after sadly farewelling teammate Blake, who died in the horror house fire which claimed the talented junior footy player and his five-year-old twin sisters Matylda and Scarlett.
"I was shouting 'Go Fergie! Go Fergie!'," said Lachlan Sheppard, who was ferried to the game with tickets along with 19 of his Greyhounds teammates courtesy of the NRL and The Daily Telegraph.
"I can't believe we won. What a finish."
Yesterday Blues skipper Boyd Cordner announced all NSW jerseys from the match would be signed by the players and auctioned off to raise money for Blake's mum Kara Atkins and surviving sister Bayley.
"They were footy tragics," said Cordner, whose Blues teammates met with the jubilant Greyhounds kids after the win.
"We thought it was right, we had to do something."
The heartfelt gesture had Greyhounds dad Jason Kellnar in tears.
"It's incredible the support the family has been getting," he said.
"And these blokes," he said, tugging his NSW scarf. "I can't believe these blokes."
He's not the only one.
Because for the first time since 2005, the Blues now boast consecutive Origin triumphs.
Better, in a decider, too.
For Pearce, that means it is now his first Origin series in eight agonising attempts.
Which wasn't easy. Or for long periods, particularly pretty.
Especially with only minutes to play when a Pearce kick was charged down by Maroons backrower Ethan Lowe.
Yep, Ethan Lowe, Origin hero.
How bloody Queensland would that be?
Called into an Origin decider, Lowe charged down a kick that set up a Josh Papalii try that looked set to give the Maroons their greatest Origin upset in years.
But then, Pearce struck. So after eight series attempts, the gutsy Newcastle half finally has his win.
While coach Fittler has his second win in as many attempts - the first Blues coach to go back-to-back since Phil Gould.
And as for Tedesco, name us a better player in the game right now?
For proof, take the moment 11 minutes after the break where, with the scores locked at eight-all, he effectively changed the result.
Again, with Pearce, on a shift left, pushing the ball out the back to his fullback who, 20m out from the tryline, found another gear.
Then another again.
Sorry, Daly Cherry-Evans and Will Chambers would've had more hope halting a rising tide. Try.
Here was the moment that turned momentum for a side that had been off since before the kick off. When running onto ANZ to Metallica's Enter Sandman - a traditional entrance stolen from US college football team Virginia Tech - the Blues came out slightly before that famed introduction to the metal classic had reached its initial crescendo.
And so went the first half.
Apart from allowing the Maroons to cross for the first try, the home side also struggled to find rhythm, metres, linebreaks and points.
Which is how these things tend to go, right?
But not last night.