NSW fans fume about State of Origin controversy: 'Got that wrong'

Seen in the circle NSW prop Junior Paulo is held back in the scrum moments before Daly Cherry-Evans crossed for a QLD try.
NSW prop Junior Paulo appeared to be held back in the scrum moments before Daly Cherry-Evans crossed for a QLD try. Pic: Ch9

NSW fans have been left seething over a controversial Queensland try during the Maroons' 16-10 victory in Game One of the series in Sydney.

The Blues must overcome a near 30-year hoodoo to retain the State of Origin shield after going down to the Maroons in a frenetic series-opener on Wednesday night.

'ABSOLUTE DISGRACE': Cam Smith at centre of State of Origin furore

BRUTAL: NSW Premier mocks Gladys in State of Origin photo stunt

'BORING': NRL under fire over build-up to State of Origin opener

Only one side this century - Queensland 2017 - have lost the first game with home-ground advantage and gone on to claim the series.

Cameron Munster was the star of the show for Queensland, with Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans also impressive in the six-point win.

However, Cherry-Evans' try early in the second half proved a divisive talking point, after NSW prop Junior Paulo looked to have been held back in a scrum in the build-up.

The Maroons' skipper cut through a gaping hole between Paulo in the scrum and Tariq Sims in the defensive line to cross for the easiest of tries, with Paulo immediately appealing to the referee after claiming he was held back.

“Now the Blues are saying they got held into the scrum,” rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns said on Channel 9.

“Tariq Sims, he gets out and over-chases Cherry-Evans … just not working together defensively there the Blues.

“Tariq Sims just gets himself in a bad situation, invites Cherry-Evans to come back off his right foot.

“Now Junior Paulo, he is appealing that he was held in the scrum, he comes back from the front row, he is appealing he got held out.”

Anger over controversial QLD try

Boos rang out around Accor Stadium as the incident was replayed on big screens to 80,512 mostly NSW fans, with Maroons legend Darren Lockyer admitting that Paulo was momentarily held back.

“If you have a look at the high-shot, he does for a little bit, there is a slight second where he gets held back,” Queensland legend Darren Lockyer said.

“Is it enough, I don’t know, but it is on the board.”

NRL great Braith Anasta told Fox League that the referee and the bunker got the call wrong by awarding the try.

“He’s held back, you can see it there. He’s got his arms wrapped," Anasta said.

“They got that wrong, in my opinion. That’s the wrong call.”

Fans on social media were also up in arms that the controversial try was allowed to stand.

'Sloppy' NSW made to pay by rampaging QLD

Controversy aside, the Maroons' victory has to go down as one of their gutsiest in the Origin arena, with the visitors going down to 15 players at one stage.

Queensland winger Xavier Coates limped off in the first half on Wednesday night, then interchange forward Jeremiah Nanai also suffered a leg injury after the break.

Even Fittler commended the Maroons for their fight against the odds.

"It was high tempo and helter skelter and they did really well after losing a winger," he said.

"They did well to keep the rhythm with what they were doing after that. They're some things that can knock you about."

With superstars Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic unavailable, Fittler's selection of Jack Wighton as NSW's starting left centre over Stephen Crichton had raised eyebrows.

But it looked a master stroke after Wighton crossed for the opening try of the night and continued to terrorise Queensland with a series of decisive plays both with and without the ball.

Wighton's strike, though, proved to be the Blues' only four points between the 15th and 71st minutes as the Maroons, with backs to the wall, shot to a 16-4 lead through tries from centres Dane Gagai, Valentine Holmes and Cherry-Evans.

Pictured here, Maroons centre Valentine Holmes celebrates after scoring a try against NSW during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series.
Maroons centre Valentine Holmes celebrates after scoring a try against NSW during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series. Pic: Getty

A Cameron Murray try nine minutes from fulltime gave NSW hope, with Wighton ankle-tapped metres from the line as the clock wound down as close as the Blues got to levelling the series opener.

"It was a bit sloppy. We probably lost that period just before halftime and then after halftime they came out firing and we didn't respond well enough," Blues halfback Nathan Cleary told the Nine Network.

"We probably just tried to move the ball a bit too much. We hadn't created anything first.

"They scrambled hard and saved us a couple of times just before the line and that's what Origin's about."

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.