Every ball was a battle in the first half. Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Every ball was a battle in the first half. Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Origin decider hangs in balance

STATE of Origin 2019 looks set to go down to the wire after a hard-fought but even first half at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

The Maroons started well with Josh Papalii looking impressive from the outset but it was the Blues who took the early lead with James Maloney kicking a penalty goal.

But from there Brad Fittler's side struggled to carve out any real opportunities against a rugged Queensland defence.

Felise Kaufusi then opened the scoring for Queensland with the first try of the match after a clever kick from debutant Corey Norman, as the Maroons went on the offensive with brutal running and damaging forward play.

Ethan Lowe bagged the conversion, and followed up with a penalty kick 10 minutes later to give the Maroons a solid lead.

The Blues answered back shortly before half-time, with Paul Vaughan - benched before the match for David Klemmer - fighting off three Queenslanders to land a crucial blow.

The Maroons celebrate Felise Kaufusi’s opening try. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The Maroons celebrate Felise Kaufusi’s opening try. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

But after the 30 minutes mark, NSW finally started to find some inroads and it was fullback James Tedesco who opened the door with his play leading to prop Paul Vaughan forcing his way over next to the posts to level the scores at 8-all at the break.