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New-look Maroons conjure up Blues boilover

Coaching guru Wayne Bennett turned the clock back almost two decades by guiding a team of Queensland rookies to an upset defeat of NSW after coming from behind to triumph 18-14 in the opening State of Origin at Adelaide Oval.

Just like in 2001, Bennett returned to the Maroons coaching role and instilled belief in a new-look team that they could stop NSW from winning a third consecutive series.

Bennett blooded 10 rookies in 2001 and on Wednesday night he handed eight players their Origin debutants, with none letting him down.

Trailing 10-0 at half-time, the Maroons scored 18 unanswered points to dominate a second half in which NSW rarely played the ball inside Queensland’s 20-metre zone.

Makeshift centres Kurt Capewell and Dane Gagai, hooker Jake Friend and five-eighth Cameron Munster were the stars of the Queensland win, while questions will be asked about NSW’s decision to play Clint Gutherson out of position at right centre.

Blues hooker Damien Cook was heavily involved in the opening exchanges, knocking on from the kick-off, saving a try when he beat Dane Gagai to a Xavier Coates grubber kick in the sixth minute and crossing for the opening try 12 minutes later.

After absorbing three consecutive sets of tackles on their own line, NSW went the length of the field before Cook grubbered near the Queensland line and regathered the ball after it ricocheted off the back foot of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and dived over to score in the 18th minute.

Queensland suffered a blow before kick-off when Brenko Lee failed a fitness test after the Maroons’ arrival at Adelaide Oval, but it was NSW who were hit hardest by injury when Boyd Cordner and Cameron Murray were forced from the field midway through the first half.

Cordner, the Blues skipper, was taken for a HIA after copping an accidental elbow from Felise Kaufusi while attempting a tackle and was replaced by Murray but the South Sydney lock lasted just two minutes before limping off with a hamstring injury.

Blues hooker Damien Cook was heavily involved in the opening exchanges, knocking on from the kick-off, saving a try when he beat Dane Gagai to a Xavier Coates grubber kick in the sixth minute and crossing for the opening try 12 minutes later.

After absorbing three consecutive sets of tackles on their own line, NSW went the length of the field before Cook grubbered near the Queensland line and regathered the ball after it ricocheted off the back foot of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and dived over to score in the 18th minute.

Queensland suffered a blow before kick-off when Brenko Lee failed a fitness test after the Maroons’ arrival at Adelaide Oval, but it was NSW who were hit hardest by injury when Boyd Cordner and Cameron Murray were forced from the field midway through the first half.

Cordner, the Blues skipper, was taken for a HIA after copping an accidental elbow from Felise Kaufusi while attempting a tackle and was replaced by Murray but the South Sydney lock lasted just two minutes before limping off with a hamstring injury.

Rushing past Gutherson after receiving an off-load from Munster, Capewell kicked ahead for Brimson who caught the ball on the bounce and crossed untouched to put the Maroons back in the game.

Coates scored three minutes later to put Queensland ahead for the first time in the match after Gagai pushed off his centre opposite Jack Wighton and raced into the clear before drawing in Tedesco with a dummy and passing to his unmarked winger.

Captain Daly Cherry-Evans, who had missed an earlier penalty goal, converted from out wide to give the Maroons a 12-10 lead and Munster put them further ahead in the 66th minute after toeing ahead a loose pass from NSW winger Daniel Tupou and regathering to score.

Yet NSW refused to yield and Addo-Carr scored in the 76th minute to set up an epic finish to the match, which ended with Kaufusi in the sin-bin for a professional foul and Capewell watching from the sideline after aggravating a thigh injury.‚Äč

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