New South Wales shot out to a State of Origin series lead with a come-from-behind 22-12 game one win over Queensland in Melbourne tonight.
Blues' left wing Josh Addo-Carr scored the match-winner 11 minutes from fulltime after fellow debutant backs Latrell Mitchell and wing Tom Trbojevic crossed to see New South Wales fight back from 12-8 down early in the second half in front of 87,122 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Brad Fittler coached side featuring 11 debutants enjoyed a 8-6 halftime lead after fullback James Tedesco scored the opening four-pointer before Queensland replied through an intercept try to wing Valentine Holmes, in a seesawing first half that saw waves of possession dictate momentum to either side.
Queensland stole a four-point lead early in the second-half with centre Dane Gagai scoring off a grubber from halfback Ben Hunt, but the Blues came home with a wet sail and were unlucky to miss out on more points.
For the first time since 2003, Queensland were without any of their 'Big Four' star players following the representative retirements of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston and the injury enforced absence of fullback Billy Slater.
Queensland centre Greg Inglis did everything he could to lift his side in his first game as captain in his 31st Origin match, making a series of powerful runs and crunching tackles in an aggressive performance.
It wasn't enough and the four-tries-to-two result leaves the Blues within touching distance of their first series win since 2014. They will look to extinguish Queensland's hopes when the two sides face off in game two at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on June 24.
The Blues battled to get off their own line early on but were first to score through a Maloney penalty goal after building pressure on the Maroons' goal line defence with two forced restarts.
Queensland missed a chance with cenetre Will Chambers spilling a pass from second-rower Felise Kafusi and the Blues made them pay two tackles later with new dummy half Damien Cook and Maloney splitting the defence to put Tedesco over after 22 minutes.
Maloney was a key figure for New South Wales, with the veteran playmaker leading their attack and steering the side home alongside rookie No 7 and Penrith teammate Nathan Cleary.
It cut both ways though, with Maloney producing two costly errors either side of halftime.
With Queensland tiring and the Blues continuing to search for points, Maloney's long pass found Holmes who went 80 metres to score before converting his own try to breathe life into the Maroons in the 27th minute.
The Blues then began the second half on the back foot when Maloney was penalised for a forward pass and from the ensuing set Gagai won the race to Hunt's grubber to the ingoal before Holmes converted from near touch to push the Maroons four points clear.
But Maloney ultimately managed to brush those disappointments aside as he stepped up to close the game out while Mitchell and Addo-Carr were both denied doubles in the final minutes.
NSW 22 (James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Addo-Carr tries; James Maloney 2 con, 1 pen)
Queensland 12 (Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai tries; Holmes 2 cons)