'Worst-ever Queensland team' wins thrilling State of Origin decider

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
The Maroons celebrate after defeating the Blues during game three of the State of Origin series.
The Maroons celebrate after defeating the Blues during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on November 18, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Getty Images)

Harry Grant has announced himself as Queensland's next big thing after leading the hosts to a dramatic State of Origin series win in Brisbane.

The Maroons defended with a man down in the final three minutes to win a brutal decider 20-14 at a near-capacity Suncorp Stadium, Grant changing the game after being brought on early in the first half.

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Grant lunged for the line and scored for a 20-6 lead with 15 minutes to play, Queensland holding off the Blues' late surge to win an eighth decider from the last nine contested.

A Daniel Tupou try and NSW penalty goal made it a six-point game inside the final 10 minutes, with Valentine Holmes twice fumbling chances to seal the result either side of that in a chaotic finish.

Fullback Corey Allan was binned with three minutes to go for blocking Josh Addo-Carr's path as the NSW man raced to score, the Maroons defending tenaciously with a man down for two sets - and surviving a last-ditch captain's challenge - to clinch a dramatic victory.

Hooker Grant, 22, was one of a staggering 14 debutants - including four in the decider - used by coach Wayne Bennett in a series in which Queensland were rated long odds to challenge a star-studded NSW outfit gunning for a third-straight triumph.

Chipped before and during the season as "Queensland's worst-ever team", captain Daly Cherry-Evans couldn't resist a quiet dig on the podium.

"We made a lot of sacrifice and a lot of people at home couldn't be here tonight," he said.

"This is the best stadium in the world. Thank you very much.

"And on behalf of the worst-ever Queensland team, thank you very much."

Harry Grant’s sensational debut

Grant's debut performance echoed that of No.6 Cameron Munster's series-winning debut three years ago and it was fitting the five-eighth kick-started Queensland's charge with a brilliant first-half try assist.

Munster kicked and regathered before repeating the dose while in mid-air as he gathered again, then chipped across field for another debutant, Edrick Lee, to score before half time for a 12-6 lead.

Holmes had scored first in the corner before James Tedesco planted the ball at the feet of a lost Daly Cherry-Evans in reply after debutant fullback Allan spilled a simple short kick.

Blues captain Tedesco's night did not last much longer, after he slid headfirst into Josh Papalii's knee and was replaced at the back by Clint Gutherson.

Dally M and RLPA rookie of the year Grant's inclusion then swung the game in Queensland's favour, the hosts peppering the Blues tryline early in the second half before settling for a penalty.

He scored the decisive try on 63 minutes, darting through a gap and planting the corner of the ball on the faintest edge of the tryline.

Blues playmaker Cody Walker ended a quiet night being stretchered off with a concussion, while Nathan Cleary's best efforts went unrewarded as Bennett clinched an eighth Origin series victory.

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