Queensland have prevailed in a crazy State of Origin decider with Tom Dearden starring on debut in a dramatic 22-12 victory in Brisbane.
Three men exited the game inside the first three minutes with concussion, while Matt Burton and Dane Gagai were sin-binned for a fight that triggered an all-in brawl.
But somehow the Maroons, with a two-man bench in front of 52,385 rabid fans, overcame a 12-10 halftime deficit to clinch a ninth win from the last 10 Origin deciders.
Queensland won the State of Origin series after beating New South Wales 22-12
‘We did in front of our fans, friends and family against all the odds and it makes it so special,’ Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.
With the game still in the balance, Ben Hunt snaffled a Nathan Cleary kick and ran 70 meters to score the match-sealer and cap one of the great Origin contests that harked back to the 1980s at Suncorp Stadium.
Prop Pat Carrigan, who played the first two games off the bench, was named player of the series while Dearden stepped up in the absence of COVID-19-hit Cameron Munster. Kalyn Ponga was incredible at fullback.
Gagai and Burton exchanged blows to ignite the second half in a fight that sparked an all-in brawl that had threatened to come in a fiery first half.
Daly Cherry-Evans lifts the State of Origin shield after an epic win for Queensland
The Maroons skipper celebrates with Billy Slater, who won his first series as a coach
Behind debutant five-eighth Dearden, the Queensland spine dominated field position and went ahead through Ponga before Hunt iced the game and the series.
‘I was pretty happy over a forward chasing me and little pig trotters had the distance,’ Hunt told Channel Nine.
‘As soon as I caught it you could just hear them roar.
‘It is what Queensland is all about; hard work and really digging in when the backs are against the wall. We did it again tonight.’
A late Kurt Capewell try, off a trick-play short kick from Harry Grant, gave Queensland a sniff entering the sheds after the Blues had all the running in a mad first half.
Queensland lost two men and NSW another, all to concussion, in a brutal opening four minutes.
Blues backrower Cameron Murray was the first casualty, clashing heads with Corey Oates on Queensland’s first tackle.
Selywn Cobbo followed him less than a minute later, the Queensland winger lying prone after some friendly fire in another tackle and requiring a medi-cab to leave the ground.
But there was disappointment for the Blues, who were the overwhelming favorites
New South Wales coach Brad Fittler and Nathan Cleary (left) made no excuses for the loss
Lindsay Collins completed the trifecta and left Queensland with just two on the bench, the prop copping a stray Daniel Tupou elbow after he had rebounded out of a fierce Tom Gilbert tackle.
Burton, a clear target for some Maroons’ physicality, almost joined them when a swinging Tino Fa’asuamaleaui arm collected him across the chin.
Two scuffles broke out before some rugby league finally took hold, Jeremiah Nanai producing several brilliant touches and Dearden putting on the game’s first try.
His short ball for Valentine Holmes capped 13 minutes of madness, the crowd finally able to take a breath as Holmes converted his own try.
Ben Hunt (left) celebrates his crucial try that sealed the game for the Maroons on Wednesday
Kalyn Ponga scored for the Maroons as Queensland took the lead with 20 minutes left
A forward pass denied Dearden another try assist, the 21-year-old probing the short side in a nerveless introduction to the big stage.
Tired legs hit Queensland though, Cleary targeting the ruck then kicking for Jarome Luai to calmly plant the ball.
Debutant Jacob Saifiti then capped a superb half with a bullocking try of his own.
An all-in brawl broke out as Matt Burton and Dane Gagai traded blows in the second half
Both players were sin-binned by referee Ashley Klein as tempers boiled over
Capewell’s try gave Queensland a sniff though, before the fireworks to begin the second half paved the way for another Maroons miracle despite another huge game from Blues fullback and captain James Tedesco.
‘It sucks but we have to take it; There was no excuse for that, especially the start to the second half,’ Tedesco said.
‘It just put us in a bad position. We didn’t react well enough.’
Relive all the action as it happened is Sportsmail’s live blog.