The "blue wall" finally crumbled as Queensland showed their true colours, avoiding their first whitewash since 2000 by claiming a rousing 32-8 State of Origin Game III win on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium.
NSW initially showed how they had earned their nickname from Queensland coach and inaugural Maroon Mal Meninga, who rated them one of Origin's best defences.
But instead of ensuring NSW's first "blue rinse" since 2000, the defence cracked as Queensland finally flexed the attacking muscle that had earned them a record eight-year unbeaten run.
In a match that featured a classic Origin "mate against mate" battle between Greg Bird and Nate Myles, Queensland ensured mixed feelings for NSW captain and Wally Lewis Medal winner Paul Gallen when he finally lifted the interstate trophy.
"I hope you enjoy this as much as I do - this is for the five million people back in NSW," Gallen screamed with the trophy aloft.
Blues coach Laurie Daley added: "Before the series, not too much would have given us a chance but this group believe in themselves - to win is pretty surreal."
On a night Queensland looked back fondly at the past, the Maroons showed they still had a bright future.
"It is bittersweet. But it is nice to play some footy in front of our fans - it showed they still have a lot of pride in the jersey," Meninga said.
Queensland were determined to toast their heroes no matter the result on Wednesday night after organising a halftime tribute to the players who had inspired their record unbeaten run.
But instead of crying into their beers, the Maroons' faithful raised their glasses again after Queensland avoided a rare whitewash in a sign the once all-conquering side might not be a spent force just yet.
"There has been a lot of talk about our dynasty being over but, hopefully, this is a step in the right direction and we can be back bigger and better next year," Queensland captain Cameron Smith said.
The match's intensity was summed up Myles' second-half feud with NSW forward and Gold Coast teammate Bird.
Bird appeared fortunate not to be placed on report for a dangerous throw on Myles that led to Johnathan Thurston's 60th-minute penalty that blew Queensland's lead out to 14-2.
But moments later, Myles was booked for leading with the elbow after making contact with Bird's throat, leaving him gasping for air on the ground.
From the ensuing penalty, NSW crossed for a Josh Dugan try despite a hint of obstruction to cut the deficit to 14-8.
However, Thurston - in his 30th straight Origin - set up winger Darius Boyd to cross in the 71st minute, equalling teammate Greg Inglis' interstate record of 15 four-pointers.
Aidan Guerra (74th) and Cooper Cronk - back six weeks after breaking his arm - crossed (78th) to kick off the Maroons' after-party.
Queensland led 6-2 at halftime after NSW's relentless defence finally cracked.
The Blues broke the ice when Maroon Ben Te'o was placed on report for a high shot on Trent Hodkinson before the Blues' No.7 recovered to pot over a 24th-minute penalty.
Momentum appeared to shift after Blues pivot Josh Reynolds was placed on report for a 33rd-minute shoulder charge on rookie Maroons winger Will Chambers.
Four minutes later, bench utility Daly Cherry-Evans set up Smith to score.
Maroons back-rower Corey Parker was named man of the match in front of 50,155.
Reynolds could miss four weeks and three games with an early plea after being charged with a grade-two shoulder charge.
Bird might miss two games for a grade-one dangerous throw but Myles can escape suspension with an early plea for a grade-one dangerous contact charge.
Te'o will miss a week after being slapped with a grade-one dangerous contact charge.
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