Gagai hat-trick sinks Blues

The National,Thursday June 23rd, 2016

BRISBANE: A hat-trick by Dane Gagai helped Queensland claim a 26-16 win over NSW at Suncorp Stadium last night, sealing a 10th State of Origin series in 11 years.
Under an injury cloud before the game, Gagai showed no sign of his quad complaint to become the seventh person in Origin history to bag three tries to be the difference in game two.
The Blues dug deep in a bid to exorcise the demons of their 52-6 loss the last time they played at Suncorp Stadium — in game three last year.
But the Maroons again found something in front of 52,293 fans to ensure rookie coach Kevin Walters savoured victory in his first series at the helm.
It provided a fitting tribute to veteran Queensland lock Corey Parker in his final home Origin after announcing this season would be his last.
The Blues showed plenty of fight to remain in contention before Corey Oates provided the knockout punch — a 73rd minute try.  Still, the future of NSW coach Laurie Daley and even captain Paul Gallen may yet be called into question after another series loss.
The mobile Queensland pack lifted in the absence of leader Nate Myles (knee) against the monster NSW forwards, laying the platform for the four tries to two win.
Queensland now chase their fifth series clean sweep after achieving the feat in 1988, 1989, 1995 and 2010.
The Maroons jumped to a 16-4 lead when Gagai crossed for his second in the 47th minute off a one hand Darius Boyd pass.
But unlike the last time they met in Brisbane, NSW refused to say die. And when James Maloney snaffled up a Gagai pass and ran 90m to score in the 67th minute to make it 20-16 it was game on.
Queensland fans held their breath when Michael Jennings and rookie Tyson Frizell tried to pounce on a Maloney kick in the 71st minute — only to be disallowed for a knock on.
An 80m intercept try by Gagai had ensured that Queensland led 10-4 at halftime.
Both sides traded penalties to lock up the scores at 4-4 before Gagai pounced on a stray pass by Jennings to streak away and score in the 32nd minute despite the best efforts of gallant rookie Frizell in pursuit.
Not everything went to plan for Queensland.
Maroons backrower Sam Thaiday is in hot water after being placed on report for a nasty 13th minute lifting tackle on NSW skipper Paul Gallen.
The Blues did it tough with forward Greg Bird (60th minute) and halfback Adam Reynolds (63rd) sidelined by midway in the second half.
The Maroons have now won 10 of 12 Origin II games in Brisbane, winning seven straight since 2002.
The last time NSW kept a series alive by winning game two in Brisbane was back in 1998. – AAP