Cameron Munster was a star on debut for the Maroons
Cameron Munster was a star on debut for the Maroons DAVE HUNT

Maroons masters old and new bury NSW

REPORTS of Queensland's death have been grossly exaggerated.

The Blues though, they're still six feet under the Suncorp turf sown on a 19th century burial ground, buried beneath one of the most clinical halves of football seen in the Origin arena.

With Maroons maestros Smith, Slater and Cronk conducting, and clubmate Cam Munster inducted to the ensemble, Queensland's supposed last waltz ended up a NSW death march - with enough hope of a comeback just to twist the knife - though the final 22-6 score line flattering the vanquished.

Not even John Farnham does a farewell quite like the Sunshine State, and the curtain comes down on Johnathan Thurston's career in the same victorious fashion as champion five-eighths Darren Lockyer and Wally Lewis before him.

But Thurston's absence was meant to sound the death knell for the Maroons golden era, the window to just a second NSW series win since his storied career began.

Instead their ever-present Melbourne connection concocted the perfect storm, and Munster snuffed out the brief Blues revival just as Thurston and his senior club mates have done for the past decade.

Rare errors at the line from Cronk and Smith cost Queensland two first half tries.

But they were the only two of the half from the home side, and were offset by superb displays of class and control from the pair.

The most encouraging aspect of the Blues first 40 was that they did not trail by the same number at its completion.

Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk celebrate the win.
Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk celebrate the win. Mark Kolbe

With Slater in vintage early touch, he created the break for Val Holmes' 15th minute opening try, his sleight of hand, followed by Michael Morgan putting the foot down giving Holmes all the space he needed.

Only a desperate hand from Brett Morris prevented Cronk scoring again just a minute later, again thanks to a Slater short ball.

Ten minutes later though Smith was given room to run, Cronk room to kick and the result was another Holmes touchdown in the left corner, and a 12-0 lead.

The Sharks winger should have had a first half hat-trick, only for Smith to come down from on high with a butchered try and a busted forward pass.

 

Billy Slater on the move at Suncorp Stadium.
Billy Slater on the move at Suncorp Stadium. DAVE HUNT

But Queensland's onslaught, led once more by Slater through the middle, continued unabated after the break, which made the Blues belated return of serve all the more surprising.

With barely a look-in for the first 47 minutes, Josh Dugan latched onto a James Maloney bomb in blink and you'll miss it fashion to spark hope of a fightback.

It lasted about as long. And what came next, from the 22-year-old Queensland debutant, paints an ominous picture for NSW's next decade.

With a 12-6 score line and not much doing, Munster found space in a disjointed Blues line and 40 metres of open space.

He then found Holmes with a speculator, who himself found the line after spectacular grab to finish the play and the Blues off.

Munster came knocking five minutes later, in that relentless fashion that's as much Melbourne as it is Queensland.

On hand to claim the pass and put the result on ice, another of the Maroons Next Gen in Jarrod Wallace, so maligned for his contribution just one game earlier.

So continued a familiar Origin tale of late. The Maroons maligned, then magnificent. The Blues, beaten and back to the drawing board.

News Corp Australia


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