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2009 Origin rewind: Mighty Maroons to the power of four

As part of a series looking back at four decades of State of Origin football, NRL.com revisits 2009, where Mal Meninga's mighty Maroons went in search of their own piece of history.

With Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurtson and Cameron Smith at the peak of their powers, Queensland had every reason to be confident as they chased an unprecedented fourth series win in a row.

Having broken NSW's stranglehold in 2006, the Maroons backed it up with 2-1 triumphs in 2007 and 2008 and entered the 2009 series opener at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium riding as high as any team in Origin history.

As hard as the Blues had tried they appeared to have no answer to a star studded Queensland line-up coached by a future Immortal in Mal Meninga and captained by all-time great Darren Lockyer.

So settled was the Queensland line-up that only one player made his debut during the '09 series - Raiders prop David Shillington in game three.

In stark contrast the Blues handed debuts to Michael Jennings, James McManus, Terry Campese, Robbie Farah, Ben Creagh, Justin Poore, Michael Weyman, David Williams, Glenn Stewart, Josh Morris, Michael Ennis and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs across the three games in a desperate bid to stop the Maroons juggernaut.

Game One, Maroons 28, Blues 18 at Etihad Stadium

A controversial no-try ruling against Jarryd Hayne was the big talking point out of the series opener.

The Eels flyer danced down the sideline and looked to have scored the game's opening try to give NSW momentum but video refs Bill Harrigan and Tim Mander ruled Hayne's foot had come into contact with the touchline and disallowed the try.

The Maroons made the most of the reprieve and piled on three converted tries in eight minutes to go to the break 18-2 up.

"We lost the plot for 10 minutes," NSW coach Craig Bellamy told Rugby League Week. "We were rattled by that decision."

The Maroons lead blew out to 24-6 before the Blues rallied late but the damage had been done and the defending champs were off and running.

Extended Highlights: Maroons v Blues

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Game Two, Maroons 24, Blues 14 at ANZ Stadium

With 80.459 passionate Blues fans cheering them on at Sydney's Olympic stadium the Blues suffered a bout of stage fright early and committed a string of errors which handed the Maroons the advantage.

Before the Blues could blink the Maroons had piled on three tries through Greg Inglis, Israel Folau and Darren Lockyer to lead 18-0 after 25 minutes.

Jarryd Hayne's spectacular 90-metre try in the 29th minute got the Blues on the board and the winger crossed again before half-time to pull it back to 18-10 at the break.

Despite having Inglis, Lockyer, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Ash Harrison, Ben Hannant and Petero Civoniceva battling injury and illness the Maroons dug deep to repel the Blues' challenge in the second half and ice the win with a try to Cameron Smith in the dying minutes.

Extended Highlights: Blues v Maroons

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Game Three, Blues 28, Maroons 16 at Suncorp Stadium

A standout display from back-rower Anthony Watmough helped the Blues restore pride in a spiteful clash.

NSW second-rower Trent Waterhouse was sent from the field in the closing minutes after Brett White had KO'd Steve Price and all hell broke loose.

Playing in just his third Origin game, Ben Creagh bagged a double for the Blues while David 'Wolfman' Williams and Josh Morris also crossed as the Blues avoided the ignominy of a clean sweep.

The key to the Blues' success was a willingness to fight fire with fire and Watmough was right at home in the pressure cooker atmosphere at the Cauldron.

Extended Highlights: Maroons v Blues

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Play of the series

The Blues had mounted a great comeback in game two to get back to 18-14 and had some chances to steal a memorable victory before the Maroons produced something special to wrap up the game and the series.

When the Maroons needed them most, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith stepped up to again break Blues hearts with two minutes left in a pulsating encounter.

Thurston's pinpoint chip kick was tapped back by a flying Slater but landed in the hands of Blues prop Justin Poore who was set upon by Ben Hannant, who drove him back into the in-goal.

Poore spilt the ball and the ever present Smith pounced to score the try that sealed the series.

Best player

Greg Inglis' 32-game Origin career was filled with highlight reel moments and he was absolutely unstoppable at times during the '09 series.

'GI' took home the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series on the back of a stunning try double in game one and another four-pointer in game two as the powerhouse Queensland backline ran roughshod over the Blues.

Inglis finished the series with an Origin record eight line breaks. 

Steve Price is taken from the field after he was knocked out in game three.
Steve Price is taken from the field after he was knocked out in game three.

The quote

"Four series wins in a row has never been done before... and I don't think it will ever be done again - by either state." - Maroons great Chris Close, Rugby League Week, May 27, 2009.

Unsung hero

Ben Hannant was never going to get the headlines of some of his superstar Queensland teammates but the hard-working Bulldogs prop was more than happy to fly under the radar.

Playing in his second Origin series the understated Hannant showed true grit to defy medial ligament damage to return to the field in game two in Sydney for a 30-minute stint with the game on the line.

The ultimate team man, Hannant played all 12 of his Origin games off the bench, making solid contributions every time he was called on by coach Mal Meninga.

Jarryd Hayne had a superb series for the Blues in 2009.
Jarryd Hayne had a superb series for the Blues in 2009.

The following year

More of the same as the Maroons made it five on the trot with a rare clean sweep. The man of the match awards were taken out by Johnathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater - three of the finest to ever lace a boot and three of the Blues' biggest tormentors during a Maroons reign that would eventually stretch to eight years.