Queensland has taken a 1-nil lead in “one of the toughest” State of Origin games played in recent years.

The Maroons prevailed 16-10 over the NSW Blues on enemy territory at Sydney’s Accor stadium last night in the first of the annual three match series.

It marks the first win for Queensland head coach and Origin legend Billy Slater who picked four debutants for the opening game.

Slater’s troops didn’t disappoint in a performance for the ages as Queensland fielded one of their best sides in recent years to outperform the Blues, who were favourites with the bookies.

Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster produced a man of the match performance to guide his side to victory with his typical unorthodox play, while the Maroon’s defence held its line even as both sides tired.

Speaking to Channel 9 after the game Munster said it was one of the toughest 80 minutes of football he had played.

“It will go down as one of the hardest game’s I have ever played,” he said.

“No penalties in the second half… that’s the best thing about Origin… it’s just how fast the game is.”

NSW opened the scoring with a try to center and Canberra Raiders half Jack Wighton who barged over the try-line in the 14th minute after an attacking play by the Blues shifted toward the left edge, well inside Queensland’s half.

The Maroons were held at bay until the 35th minute when damaging centre Dane Gagai notched up a 4-pointer following an incredible passage of play from fullback Kalyn Ponga and debutant Selwyn Cobbo.

Ponga drilled a pass to 20-year old Cobbo who put in a deft kick off his left foot as he hurtled down the sideline to help Gagai to cross over.

It sparked a torrid night for NSW as Queensland picked up where they left off in the first half after heading into halftime with 6-4 lead.

The visitors put in a spirited performance to seal the win as their attacking combinations came to the forefront in the second half.

Captain Daly Cherry-Evans scored a controversial try in the 48th minute with the Manly Sea-Eagles skipper strolling over untouched, as the Blues fumed over an obstruction on forward Junior Paulo in the scrum to take a 12-4 lead.

In just under 6 minutes, the visitors were in again after Ponga delivered another spectacular pass after skipping off his trademark right foot to find winger Valentine Holmes in the corner.

Holmes’ try pushed the lead to 16-4 leaving the home side scrambling to put points on the board.

Lock forward Cameron Murray crossed over in the 71st minute for the Blues, as the home side mounted a late comeback to reduce the deficit to six points with Queensland in the lead 16-10.

Queensland’s incredible defence held on despite the noise of the more than 80,000 strong Blues supporters that had shown up to see their side play at home for the first time in more than two years.

We’ll have to change tack a little bit… there’ll be a lot more… wrestling done.

NSW were left reeling from their attacking display as the highly regarded combination of Penrith Panther’s teammates Nathan Cleary, Issah Yeo and Jerome Luai failed to fire.

The Maroons went to the game having done their homework on the trio, with the kicking of halfback Nathan Cleary nullified throughout the game by the Queensland defence.

Blues coach Brad Fittler said his side struggled to win the battle in the ruck which proved costly.

“We didn’t really win the ruck much at all… they (Queensland) did a pretty good job there,” he said.

“[It] wasn’t till we got behind where we actually started to play a bit [of] footy [and] get over the line with Cooky (Damien Cook) and Cam (Cameron) Murray.”

Fittler said he is confident the Blues will bounce back for game two.

“We’ll have to change tack a little bit… there’ll be a lot more… wrestling done,” he added.

“We have to be lot better in that (ruck) area.”

It was a night to forget for several players in the Blues camp who made their Origin debuts.

Stephen Crichton was placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Munster in the second half and turned over possession late in the second half in a one-on-one strip by the five-eighth.

Centre Kotoni Staggs also endured a rough start in his debut. He sustained a shoulder injury that ended his night early.

The Maroons were also left with a man down after high flying winger Xavier Coates went down with an ankle injury.

It was thought debutant Jeremiah Nanai’s night was also done after the back-rower appeared to be in pain when his foot got tangled in a tackle.

The barnstorming Cowboys forward however returned to the field to finish the game.

Game two takes place in two weeks (June 26) at Optus Stadium in Perth.

Main image screenshot: Cameron Spencer from Getty Images.