QUEENSLAND'S reign of terror reached an all-time high last night when they beat NSW 23-18 at ANZ Stadium to cap their fifth successive series triumph with their first clean sweep in 15 years.
After grabbing a 12-0 lead after 30 minutes, the Maroons were stunned by a Kurt Gidley-inspired NSW fightback and found themselves trailing 18-13 with 11 minutes to play.
But late tries to Billy Slater and Willie Tonga reminded everyone of Queensland's all-round superiority.
Chosen on the interchange bench, and replaced as NSW skipper by Trent Barrett, Gidley set up one try and scored another to spark a NSW revival just when it appeared another Maroons mauling was on the cards.
Gidley's work rate and enthusiasm almost single-handedly helped NSW claw their way back into the match.
And after losing the past five series, including the first two matches in this one, the Blues rallied behind the Knights captain.
It may have been a dead rubber, but NSW were desperate to salvage some pride and the Maroons were equally motivated to notch their first series whitewash since 1995.
Proceedings started in typically calamitous fashion for NSW when second-rower Paul Gallen fumbled on the second tackle of the match, coming off his own line, allowing Queensland to turn defence into attack.
The home side weathered the storm for the next 20 minutes before Queensland spun the ball from right to left and eventually created an overlap for winger Darius Boyd, who scored in the corner.
From the sideline, halfback Johnathan Thurston calmly added the extras.
As Thurston lined up his kick, Newcastle-born and raised Cronulla prop Kade Snowden was replaced after his first taste of Origin football.
NSW's deficit became 12-0 eight minutes later when back-rower Nate Myles steamed onto a pass from Cameron Smith and dived over for an embarrassingly soft try which Thurston converted from next to the posts.
Then came a moment that neatly encapsulated the position in which NSW found themselves.
NSW reserve Gidley moved to the sidelines and signalled to hooker Michael Ennis that he was being replaced.
Ennis appeared to ignore Gidley, took the kick-off and played out the defensive set. The Bulldogs rake then packed into the scrum and won it before he was reluctantly summonsed from the field.
As he ran off, past Gidley, there was an exchange of words.
Gidley did not take long to make his mark, darting out of dummy half in the 35th minute and flicking a pass inside to Gallen, who crashed over between the posts. Gordon's goal made it 12-6 and NSW had a semblance of hope.
But as champions so often do, Darren Lockyer picked a timely juncture to remind everyone of his class.
In the final minute before half-time, the Queensland skipper unleashed a speculative 46-metre field goal attempt that evaded Gidley's charge-down and sailed between the posts.
History suggested the Blues were going to need something extra special to recover from the seven-point deficit when they returned for the final 40 minutes of the series.
If the fans felt NSW were a spent force, someone forgot to tell Gidley. In the 47th minute, after the Blues kept the ball alive, the deposed skipper spied an opening and speared through a host of enemy troops to score his first Origin try.
Gidley's body-and-soul try and Gordon's conversion made it a one-point ball game.
After a couple of near misses the Blues surged into the lead in the 69th minute when Greg Bird scored from an Ennis grubber.
But six minutes from time, Slater burst through flimsy defence to score the clincher and Tonga then scored right on full-time.