James Tedesco stole the headlines with an instantly iconic Origin matchwinner but there were a handful of other heroes — and villains — required to produce the last-minute try in NSW’s 26-20 series-clinching win.
These are the key men in a final sequence that will never be forgotten.
MBYE WAVES GOODBYE TO MOMENTUM
After scoring twice inside the final 10 minutes to tie the game at 20-20, Queensland was inside NSW territory and it appeared within range for captain Daly Cherry-Evans to attempt a game-winning field goal.
But Cameron Murray expertly delayed Moses Mbye’s play the ball on the fifth tackle and when the Wests Tigers star objected with the referee, the moment was lost. “It’s a slow play-the-ball,” Phil Gould said on Channel 9. “He’s just lost all his momentum.”
Moses Mbye argues with the referee, delaying the play-the-ball.Source:Supplied
There was a similar reaction inside the Queensland coaches box. “He (Cherry-Evans) was set to do it, I could see his body language,” Maroons coach Kevin Walters said. “But then we got the slow play-the-ball for some reason. No penalty given, which I haven’t watched it too much. He just ran out of time.
“And when you do go for a field goal at that stage and you miss, you give seven tackles and you open yourself up for the opposition to get down your end.”
CHERRY’S BOMB OF REGRET
Daly Cherry-Evans kicks a bomb instead of attempting a field goal.Source:Supplied
“I’ve got to back my judgment in those situations and when it was a slow play-the-ball the best option was to kick to the corner and defend that,” Cherry-Evans told Fox Sports, before appearing to second-guess himself. “As a footy player the biggest shots you regret are the ones you don’t take so … hindsight’s a wonderful thing. I’ll learn from that.”
But with NSW pinned back in its own half with only a minute on the clock the Maroons were still in a good position to force extra time.
MITCHELL’S PEARCE DE RESISTANCE
After early carries by James Tedesco, Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner failed to gain much ground the Blues swung the ball wide on their fourth tackle to Mitchell Pearce and the maligned Origin player finally had his moment.
Mitchell Pearce floats a pass wide to Tom Trbojevic.Source:Supplied
Pearce drew Maroons defenders Corey Norman and Moses Mbye to the ball before floating a perfect pass over to Tom Trbojevic, who drew another Queensland defender to release Blake Ferguson. “We had to chance our arm there,” Pearce said.
“If he doesn’t throw the ball out there and he doesn’t spot the space, we’re going into extra time,” added NSW coach Brad Fittler said. “(And) they were going better than us.”
SHAKING BLAKE KICKS OFF COREY
Still the Maroons had two more opportunities to prevent the score. Norman sprinted desperately after Ferguson and appeared to have the right angle to effect a tackle, but he was beaten for pace and the big winger stood tall and shook his opponent free. “What a run from Turbs and then Fergo,” Pearce said.
Blake Ferguson shakes off Corey Norman’s attempted tackle.Source:Supplied
CHAMBERS MADE TO LOOK FOOLISH
Tedesco charged after Ferguson in support and when he received the final pass had just Will Chambers to beat. Chambers would have needed to pull off a miracle to stop the Wally Lewis Medal winner one-on-one but didn’t even get close as he was wrong-footed and slipped flat on his back.
Will Chambers slips and falls on his back as James Tedesco eyes the try line.Source:Supplied
As Tedesco touched down in front of a diving Dane Gagai, the Blues fans at ANZ Stadium lost their minds. And so did their coach.
FREDDY’S UNSEEN MOMENT OF TERROR
In a moment not shown on Nine’s broadcast, Fittler charged on to the field in celebration before gathering himself in a terrifying moment.
“I was a bit nervous. I thought, can they take the try off us because I was on the field?
I was actually on the middle of the field, on my own,” Fittler said.
Steady Freddy. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)Source:AAP
“It was a first, I think. It was a fantastic moment. Queensland have done that a lot to us and it was nice to get one back.”
But the video assistant gave the all clear to secure a memorable back-to-back series win and leave the Maroons shattered.
“We left the door open for them and good sides make you pay,” Cherry-Evans told Fox Sports.
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