BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Winger Valentine Holmes scored three tries and Queensland extended its superiority in the State of Origin series with a 22-6 win Wednesday over New South Wales in the decider of the three-match series.
Before a record crowd of 52,540, it was Queensland’s 11th series victory in 12 years in the annual series between the bitter state rivals in Australian rugby league.
New South Wales won the opening match 28-4 in Brisbane but Queensland levelled the series with an 18-16 victory three weeks ago in Sydney.
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Trailing 12-0 at halftime on Wednesday, Josh Dugan gave New South Wales some hope with a try in the 48th minute, but Holmes’ third try and another from Jarrod Wallace allowed the Maroons to start celebrating over the final minutes of the game.
Star five-eighth Johnathan Thurston, who kicked the winning points with a conversion from near the sideline in Queensland’s second-match win, did not play after having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, ending a 37-match Origin career. Thurston has said he will not play representative football after this year.
Another veteran, 34-year-old fullback Billy Slater, played despite sustaining a sprained ankle in training at the weekend.
“I’ve been horizontal the past three days to try to get the swelling out, but there was nothing in the world to keep me out of this one,” Slater said.
Referring to Thurston, Slater said: “Tell the guy with the long hair up in the stands it’s pretty hard to walk away from it. This is what you play the game for, the enjoyment that the game brings you.”
New South Wales five-eighth James Maloney said it was a poor effort by his side.
“As a team to put a performance like that on an occasion like this, it’s horrible,” he said. “New South Wales deserves better, Origin deserves better, the coaching staff deserve better.”