Queensland great Billy Slater has left the State of Origin arena on a winning note, as the Maroons prevented New South Wales completing a series whitewash with a thrilling 18-12 victory in Game III in Brisbane.

Slater, captaining the Maroons for the first time in his final Origin appearance, was prominent throughout the Maroons' morale-boosting win and claimed the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series, somewhat surprisingly as he missed the first match in Melbourne.

The Blues, who been chasing their first clean sweep since 2000, had wrapped up the series with victory in Game Two last month, but they were outclassed by the Maroons at Lang Park, with the home side scoring three tries to two in the dead rubber.

While it was an emotional send-off for stand-in skipper Slater in his 31st and final Origin, it marked a happy return for Maroons half-back Daly Cherry-Evans in front of a 51,214-strong crowd.

The polarising playmaker finally won over the Maroons faithful with a masterful display in his first Origin in three years.

Billy Slater and the Maroons celebrate Daly Cherry-Evans' try in State of Origin III.

The Blues looked like they would play the role of party poopers on Slater's farewell when they somehow snatched a 12-8 half-time lead despite having five-eighth James Maloney in the bin and little possession.

And man of the moment, Slater, had been denied a try not once but twice.

Yet the Maroons dug deep to recapture the never say die attitude that had propelled them to 11 series wins in the last 12 years to finally break their 2018 duck.

Slater leads Maroons with distinction

Slater took over the Maroons captaincy for the first time in his final game after Greg Inglis broke his thumb.

With Inglis sidelined, Slater was the last man standing from Queensland's 2006 team that sparked their remarkable decade of dominance.

It closed the curtain on Slater's 14 year Origin career but it seems Cherry-Evans's is about to take off.

The Manly skipper looked to have ended speculation he had fallen out with the Maroons by becoming their poster boy on Wednesday night.

Valentine Holmes and Daly Cherry-Evans celebrate a try in State of Origin III.

He had a hand in winger Valentine Holmes' second try in the 51st minute before crashing over himself seven minutes later after a Cameron Munster break, giving the hosts the lead 18-12.

The Blues threatened a last minute try but Holmes dramatically snuffed out the Blues' attack with a diving intercept at full stretch.

The omens were not good for Queensland when Trevor Gillmeister slipped down the stairs leaving a special pre-game on-field presentation honouring former Maroons skippers.

It did not get better when Slater was denied a fourth minute try off a Cherry-Evans kick, with the video referee ruling a knock-on.

And in the 31st, Slater was obstructed by Maloney trying to reel in a Cameron Munster grubber. Maloney was sin-binned — but it was the Blues who struck next.

James Maoney is sent to the sin-bin during State of Origin III.

In a remarkable display of defensive grit, the Blues endured six straight sets by Queensland as they were forced to kick goal-line drop-out after drop-out before sinking the slipper into the hosts.

With Queensland enjoying 70 per cent possession with 10 minutes left, the Blues defied being a man down by scoring twice in three minutes.

Blues winger Tom Trbojevic snapped up Munster's errant pass in the 37th minute and ran 90 metres to score.

Then three minutes later full-back James Tedesco caught Josh McGuire out in defence and crashed over.

The Blues celebrate with the State of Origin shield.

AAP/ABC

Original Article

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