The NSW Blues have saved face in front of their home fans with a 24-10 victory in Origin III at Accor Stadium.
After losing the first two matches, the new-look NSW side dug deep to salvage some pride in front of 75,342 fans on Wednesday night.
Blues coach Brad Fittler made a number of changes after losing the series in Game Two but they were vindicated as Cody Walker shone in his return to the Origin arena and 21-year-old debutant Bradman Best stole the show with two tries on debut.
Just three minutes into the contest Best looked to open the scoring but he was denied with the bunker ruling the centre offside.
While the Blues appeared to have all the momentum in the opening 10 minutes, the Maroons were quick to capitalise on their first set in enemy territory.
It was Tabuai-Fidow who tapped down a pinpoint Cameron Munster kick into the hands of David Fifita, and the Blues didn’t have a chance of stopping the charging Titans enforcer, who crashed over the line to open the scoreboard.
But the Blues hit back just two minutes later with debutant Keaon Koloamatangi putting his mark on the match, producing a perfectly placed tap-pass to open up space for Brian To’o to cross on the right edge.
Come the 20th minute and Cody Walker made his presence felt, with some quick hands, unlocking Best who tipped on to Addo Carr before the Australian winger broke down the left edge with a perfectly executed kick and chase putting the Blues in front 10-6.
With the Blues mounting pressure and the Maroons coming up with some crucial errors, Walker orchestrated another left-side shift and this time Best capitalised, crashing over for a try on debut.
Taking note of Addo-Carr’s previous heroics, Tabuai-Fidow got in on the action in the 35th minute, sweeping outside Blues defenders before punting the ball through the line and regathering the ball just over the stripe to reduce the deficit 16-10.
A penalty against Harry Grant for crowding the ruck handed Stephen Crichton his second penalty goal of the half, stretching the Blues lead 18-10 right on the halftime buzzer.
The second stanza played out in a fairly even contest with both teams trading sets and while the Blues looked to break the deadlock in the 62nd minute through Isaah Yeo, however the forward was ruled offside. Eight points was still the difference.
After breaking tackles all night, Blues skipper James Tedesco finally found some space, streaking down the left edge before finding Best in support who made it a double on debut. Crighton’s conversion made it 24-10.
Source: NRL. com