Slater bows out a winner, NSW win series 2-1


Queensland were looking for a fitting farewell in what would be Billy Slater's final game in the Maroon colours, while New South Wales were looking to leave the Kid with a sour taste in his mouth at then end of the night. New South Wales wrapped the series up in Sydney after winning a very tight game two, however dead rubbers do not exist as gas been said numerous times in the last week.

Queensland were unchanged from last weeks announcement, while New South Wales brought Jake Trbojevic at lock in place for the bench Jack De Belin. Boyd Cordner just made the game, recovering from his calf strain with Ryan James remaining as 18th man.

It would nearly be a dream start for Queensland and Billy Slater, with the Queensland captain jumping high above Nathan Cleary after a Daly Cherry-Evans kick to plant the ball down for what could have been the first try of the game. Instead, it would be sent upstairs to the bunker, who deemed that Slater knocked on into Cleary before gathering the ball.

It wouldn't matter though as Valentine Holmes would stop an attacking raid with what is becoming a typical play for the Sharks player. He would intercept a James Tedesco cut-out pass, snapping a 3 on 2 overlap and turning it into a 95 metre runaway try to open the scoring for the Maroons. He would convert his own try from the by-lines to make it 6-0 with 15 minutes gone.

The next 10 minutes would be up and down the field, with both teams havign their fair share of chances. Slater was having a blinder of a start to his last game, nearly breaking the line on numerous occasions while DCE was showing no hesitations on his return to the Origin stage with perfect kicks and direction.

The Blues would have some stubborn defense as Queensland couldn't crack it, however on the 30th minute James Maloney would be sent to the sin bin for running Slater off the ball after a DCE kick bounced off the post from close range. Valentine Holmes would convert the penalty goal to make it 8-0.

It was looking like it would turn into 12-0 as Queensland would raid the right edge of the NSW defense, as Munster threatened a backtracking defensive line. Tom Trjobevic would then do his best Valentine Holmes impression and intercept Munster's cut-out pass to streak 90 metres and put the Blues on the board. With Maloney in the bin, Nathan Cleary would step up to convert the try, dad Ivan watching from the sidelines to make it 8-6 with 90 seconds left.

The Blues would get a penalty off the restart and barnstorm down the ground to get within striking distance as the clock dwindled towards half-time. With Queensland on it's line, Damien Cook would head out of dummy half and draw in the defense, sending James Tedesco over from just metres out to get New South Wales into the lead on the half time siren. Cleary would sink his second conversion after the siren to send the Blues into the break with a 12-8 lead against the run of the play, as Queensland had 70 percent of possession in the half.

It would be back and forth for the first ten minutes of the second half, with both teams having their opportunities but it would be Queensland to open the scoring through a second try to Valentine Holmes. A block play forced Latrell Mitchell to sprint up on Slater, who pushed the ball wide to Will Chambers and he would flick the ball out for Holmes to fly over in the right hand corner. His conversion attempt would sail to the left, with the score at 12-12.

The fatigue from the first half's defense would start to set in for the Blues, with Daly Cherry-Evans bagging a try under the posts off the back of some great running from Cameron Munster and an inside pass from Gavin Cooper. Val Holmes would make no mistake from in front to make it 18-12.

The Blues were robbed by their own mistakes in the second half, with Angus Crichton too late with a pass that would have set James Roberts down the sideline and David Klemmer tripping Ben Hunt as the Blues got through the defensive line to score with 16 minutes left.

New South Wales would grab the momentum and a few referee calls to set up camp in the final 20, however Valentine Holmes would come up with a huge intercept in the same spot where he took the first intercept for his opener. The Blues would get one more shot thanks to a huge play by Josh Addo-Carr and Tom Trbojevic. In saying that, the fatigue had set in for all 34 players and Queensland were just able to hang on for an 18-12 win.

It draws curtains to the Origin career of Billy Slater, with the Queensland legend going out a winner in his final game. New South Wales would win the series 2-1, and that would close the 2018 State of Origin series. Slater would get the man of the match, in a fitting way to end his rep career.

Luke

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