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New South Wales take early State of Origin lead in bid to end eight-series losing streak

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BRISBANE, Australia - New South Wales defended desperately over the final 20 minutes to hold off Queensland and beat its bitter rivals 12-8 Wednesday to take the early advantage in the annual State of Origin rugby league series.

In the 100th match between the sides, New South Wales led 10-4 at halftime before a sellout crowd of 52,000.

Queensland has won the last eight Origin series. The second match in the three-match series is scheduled for June 18 at the former Olympic stadium in Sydney, with the third back in Brisbane on July 9.

Each team scored two tries — Darius Boyd gave Queensland the early lead with a four-pointer in the fifth minute before Brett Morris replied in the 19th for New South Wales. Jarryd Hayne gave New South Wales the lead in the 33rd and Boyd scored his second try in the 57th minute.

The match came down to the four points on field goals kicked by Trent Hodkinson.

Man-of-the-match Hayne set up Morris' four-pointer and made a try-saving play with less than two minutes remaining when he dived on a Johnathan Thurston grubber-kick. And Morris saved a potential match-levelling try when he prevented Boyd from touching down the ball with six minutes left.

Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk was reported to have suffered a broken left forearm during the opening exchanges of the match while tackling New South Wales second rower Ryan Hoffman. He was replaced by Dale Cherry-Evans.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the result," Cherry-Evans said. "In the end we had momentum but we couldn't capitalize. A few bumps and bruises but everything is a lot worse after a loss."

New South Wales captain Paul Gallen called the win an "unbelievable defensive effort."

"We played really well in the first half, and they revved it up in the second, but we held on," Gallen said.

Queensland captain Billy Slater said it was "a tough one, but that's Origin."

"There's not too much between the two sides," added Slater.

A knock-on call against Hodkinson in the final 30 seconds gave the Maroons a scrum 10 metres in front of the Blues' posts, but New South Wales held on.

"I feel extremely proud, many things went against them — they dug deep and that was one of New South Wales' finest performances," Blues coach Laurie Daley said.

"I was just proud of their effort. For us we have belief now."

___

Scores:

New South Wales 12 (Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris tries; Trent Hodkinson 2 goals), Queensland 8 (Darius Boyd 2 tries). HT: 10-4.

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