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The NSW Blues' players dejected after the gamehttp://c1.puntersparadise.net/news/photos/The NSW Blues' players dejected after the game-1374068933_n.jpg

Maroons grit breaks Blues' heart

The NSW Blues' players dejected after the game

Great teams don't always play at their best - but they work out how to win when their backs are against the wall.
Maroons grit breaks Blues' heart
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, July 17 AAP - Great teams don't always play at their best - but they work out how to win when their backs are against the wall.

Queensland are one of the greatest teams in the game's history and they showed why once again on Wednesday with one of the most heroic State of Origin performances to hold off NSW 12-10 in game 3 at ANZ Stadium.

Leading 8-0 after 13 minutes thanks to a Johnathan Thurston try and penalty following some indiscipline from the Blues that handed them great field position, they looked well on course for an eighth straight series win.

But sensing his side were on the back foot as Matt Scott dominated young prop Aaron Woods in the front row, NSW coach Laurie Daley introduced Andrew Fifita and Anthony Watmough.

The change paid instant dividends as the pair carved up the Queensland forwards and the Blues clawed their way back into the game.

Set after set was repelled before James McManus finally crossed the line 14 minutes before halftime.

Boosted by the inroads made by the Blues forwards, Mal Meninga's side held strong.

A magnificent tackle from Justin Hodges that denied Ryan Hoffman centimetres from the line was swiftly followed by Darius Boyd getting his fingertips to a loose ball and ground it as Josh Morris swooped.

Despite their pressure, dominating the penalty count 6-2, the Blues had only four points to show for their efforts at the break.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Fifita's marvellous offload almost put Josh Dugan in the clear for a certain try only for the fullback to grass the ball.

James Tamou was held up.

The Blues, for all their endeavour, just weren't clinical enough against a great team.

Hampering their efforts, halfback Mitchell Pearce - try as he might - couldn't get his kicking game going.

Queensland sensed an opportunity and took it just past the hour-mark with their first real attack for almost 40 minutes as peerless centre Hodges went over in the right corner. The try appeared to knocked the stuffing out of the Blues, but to their credit they kept plugging and Trent Merrin, off the bench, bulldozed his way to the line with his second touch and the margin was reduced to two poinst.

It lifted the record crowd of more than 83,000 - who sensed an opportunity to finally end eight years of pain.

But the chance was blown by more Blues indiscipline when Billy Slater was taken out in the air by Fifita while catching a high ball.

The penalty halted the momentum.

Queensland got away and looked to have iced the result when Scott rumbled over from close range - only for the try to be ruled out as a streaker had interrupted the game.

It didn't matter. A great team had found a way to win.


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