Returning Maroons duo deny Blues whitewash

1 week ago 5

Queensland stars Ben Hunt and Kalyn Ponga person returned to the Maroons starting broadside and denied the Blues their archetypal bid whitewash since 2000, powering the underdogs to a gripping 20-18 triumph connected the Gold Coast.

Ponga shrugged disconnected a groin wounded to instrumentality to fullback for his archetypal lucifer of the bid and Hunt shifted from the seat to commencement astatine hooker, successful 2 moves from under-fire Queensland manager Paul Green that transformed the Maroons.

Ponga and Hunt combined successful the 64th infinitesimal to people a thrilling effort that yet proved the match-winner.

Ponga made a stellar line-break from 70 metres out, tore down the close helping arsenic helium burnt NSW five-eighth Jack Wighton and linked with winger Xavier Coates connected his inside.

And portion Blues fullback James Tedesco performed a phenomenal tackle connected Coates amid a frantic concatenation of passes, Hunt ensured the Maroons' superb transition of footy resulted successful a effort successful the pursuing play.

The Dragons skipper received the shot from Kurt Capewell connected the near borderline and sliced done a gaping spread successful the Blues defence, earlier a palmy Daly Cherry-Evans conversion pushed the Maroons retired to a 20-12 lead.

Hunt completes 2nd fractional double

Ponga past arose for different captious play erstwhile weapon NSW centre Tom Trbojevic burst done the Queensland enactment successful the 73rd minute, the Maroons clinging to a 20-18 lead.

Ponga opted against tackling Trbojevic, which would person near Tedesco unmarked connected his right, and alternatively showed exquisite timing to bat down Trbojevic's attempted walk to Tedesco.

Hunt finished the lucifer with 41 tackles and 2 tries, portion Ponga tallied 182 metres and a line-break, arsenic the 2 returning Maroons filled Queensland fans with anticipation to decorativeness a losing series.

An emphatic Hunt said Ponga was his antheral of the lucifer successful a post-game interrogation connected Nine.

"He's an exceptional talent," Hunt said.

"He started our sets truly good and connected the backmost of our onslaught helium made it truly crisp and helium conscionable added a batch astir the mediate determination and truly directed our forwards around. He was truly good."

Ben Hunt celebrates 1 of his 2 tries successful State of Origin III. (Getty)

Hunt's changeable successful the No.9 jumper mostly came arsenic a effect of injury, aft Storm limb Harry Grant was ruled retired from the past 2 games of the bid owed to a hamstring strain.

St George Illawarra teammate Andrew McCullough bushed Hunt to the No.9 jumper for Origin II, earlier Hunt took implicit for the last crippled of the series.

"He showed what helium tin bash astatine No.9 and I situation accidental helium volition beryllium putting his manus up for that relation adjacent year," said legendary Queensland fullback and existent selector Billy Slater.

Former champion Maroons hooker Cameron Smith agreed that Hunt had shaken-up the conflict for adjacent year's Queensland No.9 jumper.

"He's played a batch of typical shot successful the 9 position. Played immoderate clip determination from the interchange bench," Smith said.

"You couldn't prime him determination for Game One. Harry Grant was acceptable and he's astir apt Queensland's No.1 dummy-half, first-choice dummy-half.

"But ... there's got to beryllium immoderate question marks adjacent twelvemonth implicit wherever it goes with the No.9."

Star Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga up and astir arsenic the Maroons contradict the Blues a bid clean-sweep. (Getty)

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