• It will be no repeat of last year.

    The NSW Blues won a thriller in Sydney to win the series and send it back to Brisbane for a dead rubber.

    The final score was 18 – 14 as Brad Fittler’s group of new faces claimed the first series victory since 2014, the first win since 2005.

    Apparently, all the rugby fans who did not show up for the Test exhibition between New Zealand and England in Denver, Colorado were in ANZ Stadium, which boasted an attendance of over 82,000.

    Tries were equal at three apiece. James Maloney was perfect as the Blues’ goalkicker, which proved the decisive factor.

    “This is one of the best (Origin matches) I’ve seen and we’ve seen many, many, many great contests,” former NSW coach Phil Gould said in the Channel 9commentary.

    The Blues knew that they had to strike while the iron was hot and they did just that, taking an 18 – 10 lead from a strong tackle by Jack de Belin, which forced an uncharacteristic Ben Hunt error in the 47th minute that led to Latrell Mitchell touching from close range.

    The Maroons did not take that as any sign to capitulate, however, and brought the margin to 18 – 14 with a Will Chambers try in the corner.

    The intensity, already at a high level, ratcheted up another notch.

    The Blues lost James Roberts to the sin bin in the 69th minute and played desperation defence for the balance of the game.

    The Maroons missed more opportunities than the Socceroos versus Denmark, leaving Maroons’ Captain Greg Inglis to lament, “It was there, it was ours for the taking. We had them on the ropes. It hurts. I know we could’ve had it but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

    A game such as this would have been nothing without some measure of controversy, with a penalty try awarded to NSW skipper Boyd Cordner in the final minutes before halftime.