A late try to centre Michael Jennings helped New South Wales snatch a dramatic last-minute 18-14 victory to send retiring skipper Paul Gallen out an Origin winner.
It was the first time the Blues had won a Game Three in Sydney after trailing 2-0 in a series, with Gallen producing two try assists and kicking the last conversion in his final appearance for NSW.
A Queensland whitewash looked inevitable when fullback Darius Boyd scored in the final six minutes to help the Maroons to a 14-12 lead, and though the series was wrapped up three weeks ago it was Johnathan Thurston's two missed conversions in the end that came back to bite them in Game Three.
Handy lead-up play from winger Blake Ferguson allowed for Blues debutant James Tedesco's break in the final 90 seconds – one of many highlights for the fullback – but he would be denied by an amazing Cooper Cronk try-saver.
But Gallen would have the last laugh when his pass offered Jennings enough space to crash over for the late winner. The veteran's job wasn't done there though, as the one and only conversion of his extensive career capped off the Blues' four-point win.
While NSW stood tall at game's end, it looked ominous earlier on when the Blues' right edge was targeted for most of Queensland's earlier attacking plays leading to a simple Greg Inglis try – his 18th in Origin – after five minutes.
NSW hit their eventual 6-4 half-time lead in the 22nd minute when Tyson Frizell crashed over Boyd for his second try in two Origin appearances following a wicked James Maloney cut-out ball to Gallen, who offloaded to the try-scoring Dragon.
A champion Queensland defensive effort prevented any further points from the Blues in the first 40 after being forced into making 63 tackles more than their NSW counterparts.
By the break, Queensland had overcame a 9-1 penalty count, the sin-binning of Cronk – after the Maroons gave away their fourth-straight penalty on the Blues' try-line – and a Thurston error to trail by just two points.
Blues prop Andrew Fifita went from hero to zero in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
The bullocking front-rower scored his first Origin try in the 42nd minute when Maloney's bomb was dropped by Queensland winger Dane Gagai, before Graham toed it through for his Sharks teammate to score.
But 10 minutes later, Fifita found himself in the sin bin following what one can only describe as a brain explosion after Queenslander Gavin Cooper's 52nd-minute try.
As the Queensland debutant celebrated with his Maroons teammates, Fifita charged in from behind and put Cooper in a headlock which promptly led to an all-in push and shove and the front-rower's eventual marching orders.
The Blues held strong however to nut out their first Origin win since Game Two last year.
New South Wales 18 (Tyson Frizell, Andrew Fifita, Michael Jennings tries; James Maloney 2, Paul Gallen goals) defeated Queensland 14 (Greg Inglis, Gavin Cooper, Darius Boyd tries; Johnathan Thurston goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 61,267. Half-time: New South Wales Origin 6-4.
First published on NRL.com