Greg Inglis try seals contentious victory for Queensland in State of Origin opener
New South Wales were left seething after a dubious try and sin bin decision against them left Queensland on the brink of an unprecedented seventh straight State of Origin crown.
The Blues’ frustrations boiled over before a packed Etihad Stadium as Michael Jennings was harshly sin-binned for a wild haymaker and video referee Sean Hampstead controversially awarded Greg Inglis the match-winner seven minutes from time.
It’s debateable whether those decisions would’ve stopped the mighty Maroons, with NSW having ample opportunity to finish off the Queenslanders in the second half only to constantly come up short.
However, skilful second-rower Glen Stewart was adamant his side were robbed of crucial momentum that could have handed them the ascendency ahead of Game Two in Sydney next month.
“You create your own luck but I thought a couple of 50/50 calls went against us, but what can you do,” he said. “We’ll have to look it again. Things look different on TV but I thought we were hard done by there.”
Stewart was referring to Inglis’ decisive strike, which came with Queensland clinging to a 12-10 lead.
Hampstead ruled Blues hooker Robbie Farah had deliberately kicked the ball out of the giant centre’s hands as he tried to score before getting downward pressure on the second attempt.
NSW coach Stuart bit his tongue on that ruling, however he was less than impressed with the actions of Jennings or the referees following a first-half scuffle that changed the course of the game after his side had taken an early 4-0 lead via Akuila Uate.
“It was a silly action [by Jennings],” Stuart said. “Am I disappointed about the fight, no, I just wish there was more people involved in it. It was six or seven [Queenslanders] onto one at one stage and Jennings ran in about ninth.”
Unsurprisingly, Queensland boss Mal Meninga had no issues with the calls, although he was concerned the uproar would take the gloss off what was a brave display from his spirited side against a fired-up Blues outfit.
“It’s a special team, they keep on believing in what they’re doing,” the coach said. “Instead of asking questions about who swung a punch or if that try’s fair dinkum, you should be reporting about the greatness of that game.”
While there may have been a cloud of doubt over Inglis’ try, it was enough to propel him into the record books as he became the most prolific try-scorer in Origin history.
The South Sydney star crossed for his 13th four-pointer, breaking the record of former Maroons winger Dale Shearer.
Making the feat all the more remarkable is the fact he’s only 25, and Queensland skipper Cameron Smith said of the record-break: “Its great to look up and know you have Greg Inglis in the centres.
“It’s a pretty good effort at 25 years old to break the Origin try-scoring record.”