State of Origin Game 3: History & Stats of Games at Suncorp

After the Blues bounced back with a dominant second half in Game 2 of this year’s State of Origin, the series is locked at 1-1 heading to Queensland. Their performance in the second period of that game has seen them installed as $1.65 favourites, but they have the unenviable task of having to head into Suncorp Stadium to retain the Shield; something which has historically proven extremely hard to do.


History of Games at Suncorp Stadium

Suncorp Stadium has hosted far and away the most State of Origin games in history, with 58 matches having been played there since the inaugural series in 1982. This equates to nearly half the State of Origin games ever played, with just 67 played elsewhere, 30 of which have been at Stadium Australia, 14 more at Sydney Football Stadium, and no more than six anywhere else.

Indicative of the advantage that it gives them, the Maroons have a significant lead in the win-loss ledger at this ground. They’ve won nearly twice as many games as their southern neighbours at Suncorp Stadium, with 37 to their name; in contrast, New South Wales have won 20 times there, while there has been one draw. In total State of Origin games, Queensland leads too, but only 65-55; meaning their success on their home deck has been disproportionate to that which they’ve enjoyed overall.

In recent times, that dominance has been even more stark. Harking back to the beginning of 2010, Queensland have won 12 and lost just two games at Suncorp Stadium. Granted they were winning most of the series during that time regardless, but even in the past few years when New South Wales have begun to wrest back control, the Maroons have been tough to beat on their home soil. In both the 2018 and 2019 State of Origin series, Queensland’s solitary win came at Suncorp Stadium, while they won back the Shield there in 2020 after the series was tied at 1-1 heading to Game 3; a situation which may repeat itself in just a few days’ time. 


By Numbers

Games Played at Suncorp Stadium: 58

Queensland wins: 37

New South Wales wins: 20

Draws: 1

Queensland total points: 1093

New South Wales total points: 845

Total attendance: 2,357,336

Average attendance: 40,643

Last time they met at Suncorp Stadium: Queensland 20 def New South Wales 14 (Game 3, 2020)


Momentous Past Games at Suncorp Stadium

There has been no shortage of memorable State of Origin games which have taken place at Suncorp Stadium over the years, and the below are three of the best:

Game 1, 2005

The 2005 State of Origin series saw New South Wales attempt to win the Shield for the third time in a row, having won both the 2003 and the 2004 series 2-1. The latter of those included the first ever Golden Point Origin game, and history would repeat itself one year on. 

In front of over 52,000 supporters at Suncorp Stadium, the home side initially jumped out to what looked like an insurmountable 19-0 lead 50 minutes into the game. The Blues, however, were far from done with. Four tries in 20 minutes saw them sneak ahead 20-19, and as the clock wound down they appeared to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Enter a young Maroon by the name of Johnathon Thurston. A 78th minute field goal tied up the scores and sent the game to extra time, and when a Matt Bowen intercept led to a try, the home side secured a famous 24-20 win. New South Wales, however, got their revenge over the next couple of games, winning them both to retain the Shield. 

Game 3, 2012

The end of the 2000s and beginning of the 2010s was the most one-sided period in Origin history, and entering the 2012 series Queensland had won the Shield five times in succession. For perspective, neither side has ever won it more than three times in a row. But after a tight win at Stadium Australia in Game 2, New South Wales had the opportunity to finally snap their series losing streak in the series-decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Queensland had other ideas. At half-time, the home side had jumped out to a 16-8 lead in front of 52,437 raucous spectators, and the Blues’ backs were well and truly against the wall. But they weren’t done just yet. A 47th minute try to Brett Stewart was followed by a 70th minute try by Joshua Morris, and with Todd Carney converting them both the scores were tied at 20-20 with less than ten minutes to go. The opportunity to finally win back the Shield was right in front of New South Wales, but Cooper Cronk broke their collective heart with a 75th minute field goal to give his Maroons a 21-20 win, and a sixth consecutive series win. The streak wouldn’t end there either, with Queensland going on to win in 2013 as well to take their run to seven. 

Game 1, 1987

In just the sixth edition of the State of Origin series, Suncorp Stadium was home to one of the most memorable finishes in its history. Game 1 of the 1987 series went down to the wire, and with scores locked at 16 apiece with just a minute remaining it seemed that we were destined for the first ever tied finish in an Origin game. A chaotic play, however, and a refereeing decision which would go down in folklore, saw the Blues steal the game 20-16. 

Following a long run down the sideline, Mark McGaw threw a pass inside which was knocked into Queensland’s in-goal. With human limbs flying around everywhere, McGaw’s hand poked itself out of the pack to ground the ball – at least in the eyes of referee Mick Stone. Of course, in today’s game he would have the benefit of multiple different replay angles, but in 1987 he had to make a call on the spot, and the verdict was that it was a try. Subsequent replays have suggested that it was a terrific call under some serious pressure, but debate nonetheless rages – mostly from the Queensland camp. The famous New South Wales win, however, ultimately came to nought, with the Maroons bouncing back to win the next two games and with them the series.


Past Series Deciders at Suncorp

In 40 State of Origin series, Game 3 has decided the series on 21 occasions, and on ten of those occasions the decider has been held at Suncorp Stadium. Evidently, it’s no easy task for New South Wales to head into the stadium affectionately known as ‘The Cauldron’ and secure the series in front of a partisan Brisbane crowd, and the results are reflective of as much.

 In those season-defining games at Suncorp, New South Wales have walked away with the series on just one occasion; back in 2005 when they won 32-10. One of the other nine such matches ended in a 10-10 draw which saw Queensland retain the Shield, while the other eight all saw the home side win the game and with it the series. None of that bodes particularly well for the Blues heading into Game 3 this year – so can they buck the trend?


Can the Blues Break the Cycle?

If ever the Blues were going to upset the apple cart by heading to Suncorp Stadium and securing the Shield, this might be the year. 

Their Game 1 loss – a match that they entered as favourites – was by just six points, and many of their stars were uncharacteristically below their best. That all changed in Game 2, when, after a tight first half, they turned it on to completely dominate the Maroons in the second half. They won that period 30-0 and helped themselves to a 44-12 victory. 

In the eyes of most, they are the more well-rounded side, so it’s no surprise to see them head into this game as slight favourites despite the aforementioned trend which is so overwhelmingly in Queensland’s favour. The home side will, however, most likely welcome back Cameron Munster – so dominant in Game 1 – while Payne Haas will miss for the visitors, so there’s a bit going for the Maroons too. Were this game scheduled to be played in New South Wales, the Blues would be much heavier favourites; but at Suncorp Stadium, it’s much closer to a toss of a coin than it otherwise might have been.

Over 40 years of history at Suncorp Stadium suggests that the Blues will have their work cut out heading to Queensland to win the series on Wednesday night, with the Maroons’ record in season-deciding games there hard to argue with. But as the old adage goes, records are made to be broken. Despite having the weight of history against them, New South Wales will enter the game as favourites, and based on their performance in the second half of Game 2, they will be hard to stop regardless of where the game is played.


State of Origin Game 3 Win Odds 

Queensland Maroons –  $2.25

New South Wales Blues$1.65

**Odds quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change