AAP Rugby

Belief drives Blues rookies to Origin win

By AAP Newswire

There have been plenty of stories dedicated to the alternative and kooky methods Brad Fittler has introduced to this next generation of NSW State of Origin players.

But none compare to the old-school attribute of belief.

And on the evidence of their games one and two victories - with Sunday night's 18-14 win sealing the series - the rookie NSW coach and his batch of first-timers triumphed where previous Blues failed.

With 11 players on debut, NSW showed plenty of ticker when they lost the lead early in the second half in Melbourne only to claim an impressive series-opening win.

The doubts were there again on Sunday night.

This time it came earlier, with the Maroons stunning both the home team and their sellout ANZ Stadium crowd by racing out to a 10-0 lead inside the opening quarter of game two.

It could've easily been a three-try lead if Maroons winger Dane Gagai hadn't simultaneously grounded the ball with his leg on the sideline.

NSW restored the faith with back-to-back tries - including only the second penalty try in Origin history - and again it appeared the Queensland dynasty was finally over.

But as previous Origin warhorses have repeatedly warned us, the Maroons never say die, and no amount of barefoot training sessions, yoga, and salsa dancing would've prevented another comeback.

A 63rd-minute try to Will Chambers reduced the deficit to four, and when James Roberts was sin-binned for a professional foul, a familiar feeling washed over the stadium as it had since 2006.

"We've seen this movie before, haven't we," Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould said.

All week Fittler reminded his team that they had left points at the MCG and urged them to come out accordingly, even despite the heroic return of Maroons champion Billy Slater.

The fact Latrell Mitchell did his best to deliver, and promptly turned the ball over with low percentage plays, only added to what was a grandstand finish.

But, fittingly, it was old-school defensive plays that delivered NSW their second shield in 13 years.

The first was a trysaving tackle from James Tedesco on a runaway Kalyn Ponga, which was matched by Nathan Cleary's effort on Valentine Holmes on the opposite wing.

Veteran James Maloney said it was special to have finally claimed a series win in his third attempt.

"We said before we came out, it was never going to go to plan. We were going to have to face adversity at some point, and how we reacted to that would determine the result," he said on Channel Nine.

"The boys just held strong. That is Origin mate, there is nothing in it. You have got a Queensland side coming at you and we kept turning up.

"A lot of these guys are playing their first series. They don't understand and they probably don't appreciate the significance of it. But, yeah, it is special mate. Hopefully it is the start of something."