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Maroons reign over

Friday, June 20, 2014

SYDNEY - Finally.

It took all of 2905 days and then 71 agonising minutes.

But NSW are State of Origin champions once more.

The eight years of punishment that started when fullback Brett Hodgson threw an errant pass in the dying minutes of the 2006 decider, ended when the most unlikely of heroes Trent Hodkinson strolled over for the match-winner on Wednesday night.

For much of Queensland's reign, Hodkinson has been in reserve grade or battling a knee injury so serious it threatened to end his career.

But on Wednesday night it was Hodkinson — only in the side because Mitchell Pearce had a late night ahead of game one — who was the hero.

With nine minutes on the clock and Queensland clinging to a 4-0 lead, Hodkinson snuck through a hole, kicked the conversion and finally — it was over.

Queensland were never going to give it up without a fight.

And there were so many spot fires in this match, if the new anti-fighting laws weren't in place — this one would have been an 80 minute boxing bout.

NSW's first Origin captain Tommy Raudonikis announced pre-match he has been diagnosed with throat cancer.

This was a match where Tommy would have called "Cattledog" — his legendary call to arms — after every scrum.

If game one was one of the greatest Origins of all time, then game two was one of the nastiest.

Ill feeling from the first minute to the second last — when Johnathan Thurston and Josh Reynolds were put on report for alleged headbutts.

The nail was officially put in Queensland's coffin when fullback Jarryd Hayne picked up a desperate kick from Queensland with time expired, and ran the ball all the way over the dead ball line and into the sea of Blues supporters.

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