All of the pre-match chat was about whether the loss of Cooper Cronk would tip the balance away from his Maroons and to the Blues for the crucial second State of Origin match at the MCG. Cronk was ruled out through a knee injury which may also keep him out of the final Origin game, and replaced by Daly Cherry-Evans.
The Blues were the ones chasing the win to level the three match series. The news of the return of Paul Gallen will have bolstered those New South Wales supporters praying for a victory, although some pundits were suggesting that he might have been rushed back and was not match fit.
The bookies had Queensland as slight favourites for the win but only -2 on the handicap coupon, probably based more on the win from Origin I rather than the team changes ahead of today's game.
The early pressure was all Blues and it took just under four minutes for them to take the lead when Michael Jennings found a gap between three defenders out left to go past a stretched Queensland defence and dive over. Trent Hodkinson kicked the extra two for a great New South Wales start.
Queensland had a quick answer. On ten Jonathan Thurston went close before Corey Parker spun in the tackle and found Matt Scott to power over under the sticks. Thurston added a simple two and the scores were all square.
It had taken ten minutes and the game was already at boiling point.
New South Wales were back in the lead on twenty-seven when Josh Morris crossed for a four pointer after a pinpoint Mitchell Pearce kick, and Hodkinson added the extras for 12-6.
On thirty-four Greg Inglis narrowed the gap with an unconverted try off a brilliant Darius Boyd break, but Hodkinson took the opportunity of a penalty when Jacob Lillyman was inside the ten with two minutes left on the clock and the sides went into the interval with the Blues 14-10 ahead.
The second half was six minutes old when the Maroons hit the front for the first time. On their third consecutive set, Cherry-Evans switched the play inside for Matt Gillett to go over by the posts and enable Thurston to kick a simple goal for 16-14.
The lead was doubled on fifty-six when Thurston kicked an easy goal from eighteen out but with twenty minutes left it was still anyone's game.
Aaron Woods edged his Blues side back in front when he powered through weak Scott and Slater tackles to crash over the line from ten metres out. It was an easy goal for Hodkinson to give NSW a two point lead at 20-18.
When Mitchell Pearce lost the ball in the tackle on the Queensland ten metre and the loose ball was picked up by Greg Inglis who pinned back his ears and went ninety metres to outpace the Blues defenders but after reviewing the decision upstairs it was controversially ruled out.
As the game entered the last ten, and with Queensland visibly tiring, the Blues opened up a winning margin when Josh Dugan scampered over from ten metres and gave Hodkinson another easy conversion for 28-20.
New South Wales ran down the clock to the victory to level the series and take this intriguing tussle to the deciding game at the Suncorp Stadium in three weeks time. Now, that should be one hell of a match.
New South Wales: Dugan (T), Farah, Gallen, Hodkinson (5G), Hoffman, Hopoate, Jennings (T), Morris B, Morris J (T), Pearce, Scott (T), Tamou, Woods. Interchange: Merrin, Cordner, Klemmer, Jackson.
Queensland: Slater, Boyd, Inglis (T), Hodges, Chambers, Thurston (3G), Cherry-Evans, Scott (T), Smith, Myles, Guerra, Thaiday, Parker. Interchange: Morgan, McGuire, Gillett (T), Lillyman.
Referees: Gerald Sutton & Ben Cummins