New South Wales 14-18 Queensland: Maroons debutants turn tide for Origin I win

By Sports Desk November 04, 2020

Queensland overturned a first-half deficit to strike first in the 2020 State of Origin with an 18-14 defeat of New South Wales in Wednesday's series opener. 

The Maroons lost last year but seized the initiative as the latest edition - delayed until after the NRL season due to the coronavirus pandemic - got under way with the first ever Origin match in Adelaide. 

An inexperienced line-up had to show plenty of spirit as a one-two punch from the Blues saw Damien Cook and Josh Addo-Carr cross in quick succession to claim a 10-0 lead at the interval. 

But Queensland stuck to their task and were good value for victory as an excellent second period saw Alexander Brimson, Xavier Coates and Cameron Munster all on the scoresheet, with Addo-Carr's late second try unable to rescue a result before attention turns towards Sydney next week.

Cook's knock-on from the kick-off epitomised an untidy start as Addo-Carr was squeezed out in the corner at one end before Daly Cherry-Evans skewed a penalty wide in the absence of a regular Queensland kicker. 

The game remained scoreless until the 16th minute when Cook gathered his own kick and bundled over for a breakthrough Blues try against the run of play. 

They took control thereafter and a more accomplished move from left to right allowed Addo-Carr to brush off Brimson's attempted tackle and stretch their advantage. 

But the Maroons stayed in touch and two debutants combined for a response 10 minutes after half-time, Kurt Capewell's awkward kick bouncing kindly into the clutches of Brimson for his first Origin score.

And the game was soon turned on its head when Dane Gagai's powerful running created space for Coates - another man making his bow at this level - to dash in on the right, with the extras from Cherry-Evans securing a first Queensland lead. 

Determined not to cede control just as their rivals had, the Maroons kept the pressure on and were rewarded as Munster toed the ball away from a scrambling Nathan Cleary and held off Cook to score. 

The Blues found a new burst of life in the final 10 minutes and belatedly moved with some urgency to again find Addo-Carr, who was able to dot down. 

Felise Kaufusi headed for the sin bin with 13 seconds remaining as NSW attempted an improbable recovery, but the reigning champions were left with too much to do.

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    310 – He also holds the record for most wins in premiership matches. Of those victories, 242 were as skipper – the most as a captain.

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    3 – Smith ends his NRL career with Premierships in 2012, 2017 and 2020. It could have been five, but the Storm were stripped of Grand Final triumphs in 2007 and 2009 due to salary-cap breaches.

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    56 – Smith represented Australia more than fifty times. Only Darren Lockyer (59) managed more than Smith for the Kangaroos.

    33 – Lockyer (38) is the only player to have captained Australia on more occasions than Smith, who led the country to Rugby League World Cup glory in 2013 and 2017.

    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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