Lockyer & Thurston Lead Maroons to Origin 1 Victory over the Blues

Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer and halfback Johnathan Thurston pulled together to guide the Maroons to a mighty win ahead of the Blues in the State of Origin series opener in muddy conditions at Sydney last night.

Installed as the underdogs with bookmakers across the country including Ladbrokes.com.au after a series of pre-match issues, Queensland rose to the occasion and secured their first game one Origin victory at ANZ Stadium since 1998.

Many fans expected a grinding game with the downpours in Sydney, but to both teams credit it was a cracker match, with a surprising 52 points scored in total.

The victory puts the Maroons in an ideal position to secure their record fifth straight Origin series, as they have the home ground advantage for game two to be played at Suncorp Stadium on June 16.

Atoning for last year’s devastating game three loss at the venue, Queensland came out firing last night, with all of their big name players out in force.

Lockyer was constantly at the right place at the right time, diving on loose balls, sending sensational passes to his teammates and even scoring himself a try in what is likely to be the veteran’s final Origin series before retirement.

And Queensland’s number seven, Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston, showed little sign of the sore shoulder that has been plaguing his season this year. As expected the Blues targeted the talented halfback, starting two minutes in when Jarryd Hayne palmed him off hard, JT flying back five meters after he went to put a tackle on Hayne.

Thurston had told the media he felt fit and he showed this was no lie, the playmaker putting in a furious and determined 80 minutes, proving pivotal to Queensland’s success. Thurston set up tries all over the field and showed off his kicking skills booting the ball deep into NSW’s territory giving Queensland further advantages.

Man of the Match, one of the most popular Rugby League Betting wagers, therefore went to a well-deserving Thurston.

One of the biggest disadvantages for Queensland was that they lost hooker Cameron Smith from the line up after the instrumental man from Melbourne was ruled out with an ongoing elbow injury. There was much debate surrounding their replacement number nine, Matt Ballin, but as it were Queensland had little to fear as Ballin put in the performance of his career.

State of Origin Game 1 – Match Rundown:

The scoring began early when Blues winger Jarryd Hayne, who struggled to stick to his role on the outside throughout much of the match, got over seven minutes in after seizing a ball spilled from Darius Boyd. Then, a spot-on kick from Manly’s Jamie Lyon saw the home side secure an early six point lead.

The cockroaches were not to stay in front for long, however, as the Maroons began their assault in the 15th minute.

After New South Wales controlled ball possession in the first 10 minutes, putting pressure on Queensland’s defence playing inside the opposition’s 20 in their first few sets, it was Queensland who dominated after the early opening exchanges.

Darius Boyd, who after the first drop of the ball that led to Hayne’s opening try did have a brilliant match on the right wing for Queensland, opened their account in the 15th minute and Thurston converted to tie the Origin scoreboard six all after the first quarter.

Boyd’s try, set up by a smart offload from Thurston, was the break Queensland needed to get on track.

After a controversial ruling in the 30th minute, NSW were awarded a penalty and the Blues went for the kick, Lyon booting it through the posts to give them a two point advantage with 10 minutes left in the first half.

But before the break, QLD fullback Billy Slater showed some magic scoring in the 34th minute, Thurston’s sweeping kick giving the visitors the 12 – 8 lead heading into half time. It was an important try for Slater, who was desperate to make up for his inability to catch the first bomber kick from the Blues earlier.

Back from the break it was the Maroons all the way, the brave Queensland supporters in the 68,700 plus crowd given a real show to cheer about!

Darren Lockyer was the first to put points on the board in the second half, the sprightly skipper showing he still had it after catching an excellent offload from David Shillington before finding a gap in the Blues defence to charge over for a four-pointer in the 47th minute.

This time Thurston missed the kick after the ball bounced off the posts, so the score read 16 – 8.

New South Wales were next over the line, when powerhouse Anthony Watmough controversially scored in the 56th minute, despite an apparent Trent Waterhouse knock on leading up to the try; Lyon’s kick bringing them within two points of their rivals.

But six minutes later Queensland proved they were not about to give up their lead, as two Rugby League greats scored two tries in five minutes.

First Greg Inglis got over in the 62nd minute, followed by a beauty from Broncos Sam Thaiday in the 67th minute, which came after Thurston was able to pull off a one-on-one strip from Blues captain Kurt Gidley. More brilliance from Thurston saw him convert both, and the cane toads leapt in front leading comfortably 28 – 14.

To the Blues credit, they fought back hard to narrow the final deficit to a mere four points after a stunning final 15 minutes of play.

On debut, young Jamal Idris from the Bulldogs scored his first Origin try in the 73rd minute, Lyon missing the kick so they still trailed by 10 with only seven minutes to go.

At this stage a win for the Blues was not impossible, and the crowd were kept on the edge of their seats. But despite a Ben Creagh four pointer converted by Lyon in the final minute of play, the Blues just didn’t have the steam to come back after letting Queensland’s momentum put them too far behind, and it was the Maroons who went home the winners of round one, 28 – 24.

Game two for the 2010 Harvey Norman State of Origin series is scheduled for June 16 at Suncorp Stadium.

To view the line-ups for the match visit State of Origin Teams and Ladbrokes.com.au have all of your State of Origin Betting needs covered!

Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now to get in early and secure the best odds on the 2010 State of Origin!