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Rugby League

Blues' last-gasp Origin win sealed with a kiss

Rugby League

Michael Jennings lifted Josh Mansour’s head, and was rewarded with a kiss.

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Mansour sunk to the lowest of State of Origin lows last night when the NSW winger’s 75th-minute slip gifted Queensland fullback Darius Boyd what looked to be yet another heartbreaking game-winner.

As has often been the case during the Maroons’ decade of dominance, they seemingly found a way to claim victory at the death.

Blues centre Jennings, who himself had to be picked up from a night to forget at Suncorp Stadium in game two, acted quickly to console his former Penrith teammate.

“He felt sick to the stomach and he felt he let the team down,” Jennings said.

“I remember saying to him, `That’s just part of Origin. You ride the highs and you ride the lows.’

“The only thing you can do is put your head up because it doesn’t matter – it’s not just that one point where you make a mistake (when you lose)’.

“In those situations you do need someone there to give you a bit of guidance and it was me.”

However it took just three minutes for Mansour to go from drowning in his own sorrow to being swept up in relief, with Jennings beating five defenders at the death to steal a last-gasp victory.

And the Blues winger was one of the first to celebrate with his centre partner.

“When I scored the try he come over and give me a kiss and he was over the moon,” said Jennings, who is slated to be one of Mansour’s groomsman at his wedding later on in the year.

“But don’t worry, he’s a bad kiss.”

Jennings’ future in the Blues line-up had come under scrutiny after game two, where he came up with two crucial errors, including a fingertip knock-on that denied NSW a potential game-winner.

But the Parramatta centre shrugged off the criticism to play a major role in the Blues’ dead-rubber win, and is now eyeing a leadership role in next year’s series.

Match winner Jennings declared NSW could look to the future with a smile after the Blues sent out retiring skipper Paul Gallen victorious with the 18-14 victory over nemesis Queensland at ANZ Stadium, in a spiteful clash before 61,267 fans in which Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk and NSW forward Andrew Fifita were sin-binned.

“It was a pleasure to send Gal out like that,” Jennings told the Nine Network.

“We can look forward to next year with some positivity now.

“I thought Teddy (James Tedesco) was going to get to the line and unfortunately he couldn’t. I was fortunate enough to get there in the end through a bit of ball movement. I’m just grateful for that opportunity.”

Gallen said it was a fitting way to go out.

“It’s good. We tried hard; our effort has been outstanding all three games – just our execution let us down,” he said.

“Thankfully for us, we did it tonight. A series win would have been nice. But we’re playing against a great side and things could have quite easily been different if things had gone our way in the first two games.”

Man of the series Cameron Smith, who again led the way for Queensland, paid tribute to Gallen.

“He has been a real warrior for the Blues,” Smith said.

“He has had an outstanding career.”

Greg Inglis opened the scoring for Queensland in the fifth minute but, from there, the Blues dominated much of the first stanza with possession, field position and the penalty count falling heavily in their favour. 

Tyson Frizell crashed over for the Blues in the 22nd minute. But the home side failed to take advantage of Cronk’s sin-binning for a professional foul and could only manage a 6-4 halftime lead. 

Fifita put the Blues further ahead in the 41st minute with a controversial try after Jennings was not ruled to have interfered with the play despite being offside.

Debutant Gavin Cooper scored for the visitors in the 52nd minute and Fifita was subsequently sin-binned after he reacted to Cooper throwing the ball at Matt Moylan.

Mansour’s slip saw Boyd score with five minutes left, chasing through a Cronk bomb – but with the game almost over, Tedesco spirited upfield and, on the next tackle, the Blues spread the ball for Jennings to plough through the Queensland defence. 

Gallen converted Jennings’ try after the bell.

 “Something we can take out of it is we’ve beaten a really good side at the death. It’s something we haven’t done before,” Blues coach Laurie Daley said.

Maroons back-rower Corey Parker finished a loser in his final Origin game.

“Let’s take nothing away from NSW – they deserve everything they get,” Parker said.

 “The hard part now is not to hang out with your best mates all day.”


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