NEWCASTLE flyer Dane Gagai was named player of the series as Queensland reaffirmed their State of Origin ascendancy against NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Even without injured champions Johnathan Thurston (shoulder) and Darius Boyd (thumb), the Maroons prevailed 22-6 against an overwhelmed NSW team to clinch their 11th series triumph in the past 12 years.
Gagai, who has signed to join South Sydney next season, became the first winger in Origin history to receive the Wally Lewis Medal for the series’ standout performer.
He carried the ball 577 metres in the three games, including 168 metres in the decider. He was tryless on Wednesday night but Queensland’s other winger, Valentine Holmes, scored a hat-trick.
So emphatic was the home team’s performance, it seems hard to believe the Blues won the series opener 28-4 at the same venue six weeks earlier.
NSW then led game two 16-6 at half-time and appeared set to end Queensland’s all-conquering era, before conceding two late tries to lose 18-16.
With 52,540 parochial fans behind them, the Maroons never looked like losing the decider.
Holmes crossed twice before the half-time break and had another disallowed.
Holmes’ first try came in the 15th minute, after a one-handed inside ball from stopgap centre Michael Morgan.
Twelve minutes later, Holmes basically had to catch and fall over the line after a pinpoint stab kick from halfback Cooper Cronk.
Cronk came agonisingly close to scoring in the 18th minute, when he supported a break from fullback Billy Slater and dived over the line, only for video replays to reveal he lost possession in the process.
Facing a 12-0 deficit at the change of ends, NSW hit back in the 48th minute when centre Josh Dugan scored near the posts.
But any hopes of a Blues revival were shattered in the 60th minute when Maroons pivot Cameron Munster broke clear and offloaded for Holmes. Another Munster pass, this time an inside ball to prop Jarrod Wallace in the 67th minute, sealed the result.