Blues finally break Origin halves curse

Matt Encarnacion
Nathan Cleary won praise from Brad Fittler for his tackle on a flying Valentine Holmes

Has the curse on NSW's State of Origin halves finally been broken?

On the evidence of the Blues' thrilling series win over Queensland on Sunday, it appears so.

James Maloney and Nathan Cleary this year became the state's 21st halves pairing since Braith Anasta and Brett Finch started in game one in 2006.

That's almost a new duo every two games but coach Brad Fittler may have finally unearthed a combination for the future in the two Penrith stars.

Like he did in game one in Melbourne, Maloney played chief architect in Sydney and had a hand in all three Blues tries.

His first assist came when he ignored the fact he threw an intercept pass in the series-opener and shovelled a risky three-man cutout to Josh Addo-Carr in the 25th minute.

"There was three people that could've intercepted it. I thought, 'Really? You still went for it? Really?'" Fittler said.

"That was a big moment. I was about to pull him off."

Fittler admitted Cleary looked sometimes disorientated but delivered when it mattered, evoking memories of Scott Sattler's famous 2003 grand final tackle with a try-saver on a flying Valentine Holmes.

He became just the eight NSW halfback to taste a series win over the Maroons.

"He was a bit lost at times but when we needed to do a tackle on the sideline down a fast winger, he was the man to do it," Fittler said of Cleary.

"They were great tonight and they improved.

"In the first half we did nothing, did we? We were just very hesitant. We had a chat at halftime then their game changed. That's not easy to do. They were pretty good, our halves tonight."

The series win was Maloney's first in four cracks.

"I think it's special when you've been in this arena, fallen short and it was just short a couple of times. A lot of guys in there that have played their first game.

"This is what Origin is. They come in and they win the series but there's a few of us in there, probably understand a little bit more just how special it is."