Battling Baby Blues do NSW proud
THEY came into the series as Brad Fittler's baby Blues.
And even though they missed out on the series clean sweep at Suncorp Stadium, Fittler's bold new generation showed exactly why NSW's future is in good hands.
With one of the bravest and most inspiring defensive efforts ever seen in State of Origin, the Blues defied an astonishing first half possession deficit to push Queensland to the absolute limit over an absorbing 80 minute contest.
Darren Lockyer labelled it "one of the most entertaining Origin's to watch" while called the first half defensive effort from the Blues "as good as defensive effort as I have ever seen".
It was an enormous effort for the Blues just to be still in the game, let alone leading 12-8 at the break.
You factor in the amount of possession Queensland had and the fact they had James Maloney sent to the sin bin for a professional foul on Billy Slater in the 30th minute and it was just an astonishing performance.
At that point the Maroons had a stunning 72-38 per cent split of the ball and the Blues had been forced to make 156 tackles to Queensland's 87.
Yet the decision by Queensland to take the two points instead of go for the try following Maloney's exit proved crucial.
Tom Trbojevic snatched a loose pass from Cameron Munster to race the field for an intercept try and then right on the stroke of halftime Damien Cook and James Tedesco combined brilliantly to sneak a second try against the odds.
Gallen said at halftime: "I will never forget 2014 the last 15 minutes against these guys (in the last series NSW won) … they defended for 35 minutes and the majority of it on their try line.
"(Queensland) never even looked like cracking their line to be honest.
"Never created the overlap at all.
"If the Blues are to go on and win this it will be on the back of that defensive effort. That is as good as I've ever seen."
But ultimately the workload was always going to come back at them later in the game and that's exactly what happened.
On the back of a Tariq Sims brain explosion when he tackled Ben Hunt at marker while the Blues were in possession, Queensland scored twice in the space of seven minutes to snatch the lead back.
And as they tried the Blues just had nothing left despite a brave and gutsy effort all the way to the final hooter.
There were some tremendous performances all over the park from the Blues.
None were better than James Tedesco at fullback and Tom Trbojevic was equally outstanding, running for a game high 235m, while his brother Jake clocked up 43 tackles to lead the way in the middle.
Cook also had a terrific game at dummy half, charging for 76m and making 37 tackles.