Queensland win State of Origin series

Last updated 23:59 06/07/2011

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A statue of Wally Lewis might stand proudly outside, but Suncorp Stadium belonged to Darren Lockyer on Wednesday night.

Indeed it seems only a matter of time before Lockyer joins Lewis in bronze outside the spiritual home of State of Origin football after being provided with a fitting farewell in Maroon colours.

In a perfect send-off for the retiring Lockyer, Queensland won Origin III 34-24 to seal a sixth straight series victory in front of a record-equalling 52,498-strong crowd.

Lockyer's resume was already impressive enough.

He ran out on Wednesday night in his 36th game in his 13th series - extending his Origin record for matches played.

And it was his 22nd as captain, second only to "The King" Lewis.

But Lockyer did get one up on his idol Lewis by fulltime - he racked up a 19th victory as Queensland skipper, eclipsing the great one's once untouchable tally.

They did have one thing in common - just like Lewis in 1991, Lockyer enjoyed the fairytale sendoff as Queensland held on for a six tries to four win despite at one stage leading 24-0.

However, it didn't quite all go to script.

Inspirational halfback Johnathan Thurston suffered what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury in the 57th minute.

And the man expected to take over from Lockyer as Queensland captain next year, Cameron Smith went on report for driving his knees into Jarryd Hayne as the NSW flyer scored a consolation try in the 71st minute.

He conceded an eight-point try to reduce Queensland's deficit to 34-18 and Blues' backrower Greg Bird also crossed in the dying minutes but it was too little too late.

Despite his indiscretion, Smith was still named not only man of the match but awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series.

Queensland led 24-10 at the main break but NSW somehow scored two tries in the final three minutes of the first half despite the Maroons dominating possession 70-30.

Initially, it was all one way traffic, as Greg Inglis (16th minute), Sam Thaiday (25th), Cameron Smith (31st) and Yow Yeh (33rd) crossed without much resistance from a shellshocked Blues.

Man of the moment Lockyer kept a low profile until making a telling break in the lead-up to Smith's burrowing try.

Lockyer then warmed to the task, putting in a grubber kick which ricocheted off NSW fullback Anthony Minichiello, allowing Yow Yeh to toe ahead for himself to score in the 33rd minute to make it 24-0.

Just as Lockyer was practising his victory speech, NSW struck back.

The Blues finally troubled the scorers through Minichiello in the 37th minute after a bizarre series of panicked NSW passes, lucky bounces and Queensland fumbles.

Three minutes later, luck had nothing to do with NSW scoring.

Fijian-born NSW winger Akuila Uate finished off a magnificent sweeping movement against a stunned Queensland and, suddenly, the Blues had a sniff.

But Queensland muscled up as both teams traded two tries each and the Maroons' faithful went into party mode.

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QUEENSLAND 34 (G Inglis 2 B Slater C Smith S Thaiday J Yow Yeh tries J Thurston 4 C Smith goals)

NEW SOUTH WALES 24 (G Bird J Hayne A Minichiello A Uate tries J Soward 4 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Tony Archer, Shayne Hayne. Crowd: 52,498.

Game 1: QLD 16 bt NSW 12

Game 2: NSW 18 bt QLD 8

Game 3: QLD 34 bt NSW 24

Series: QLD win series 2-1

- AAP

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