Queensland Maroons avoided a State of Origin clean sweep as a dominant display was rewarded with an 18-12 victory over New South Wales Blues in Brisbane.
The Maroons had already fallen to a rare series loss heading into this third and final match, with Billy Slater captaining the side in his last representative appearance.
And Queensland were on top from start to finish in front of their home crowd, even if a wretched spell just before half-time kept NSW alive in the match.
Valentine Holmes scored the opener, but the Blues defended doggedly and countered ruthlessly to lead at the interval.
The visitors' energy levels waned following the restart, however, and Holmes added his second before Daly Cherry-Evans' try clinched victory.
Slater was denied a dream start after he towered above Nathan Cleary to score, with replays showing the Maroons star had knocked the ball on as he fumbled a cross-field kick.
Queensland soon led, though, as Holmes stormed away to score from 90 metres after picking off a James Tedesco pass, the Blues punished the first time they sent numbers forward.
A series of piercing grubber kicks put New South Wales under further pressure and it told when James Maloney barged Slater off the ball to earn 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Holmes dispatched a penalty over the posts, but the Maroons improbably fell to pieces against 12 men.
Tom Trbojevic sprinted clear to reduce the deficit and the Blues then edged in front when Damien Cook teed up Tedesco to tear through the shell-shocked hosts.
Although New South Wales initially sought to take a more ambitious approach to the second half, they were swiftly pegged back when space opened up for the prolific Holmes to dive into the corner on the right.
And Cameron Munster's powerful run created room for Gavin Cooper to square to Cherry-Evans for a third Queensland try.
A sublime Holmes interception halted the Blues in their tracks as they chased a late leveller in a frantic finish, with the Maroons able to get across the line for a face-saving win.
18 de diciembre 2018
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