There is no better sound in rugby league than the majority of a capacity crowd roaring in unison for the same team. It is a noise unique to State of Origin; it is the one rugby league event when fans fill ANZ or Suncorp Stadium and mostly agree on who should win.
As the New South Wales Blues took to the field for State of Origin III at ANZ Stadium the roar was palpable. The cold air numbed the face but the noise set nerve ends alight with excitement and anticipation.
Being part of one voice in support of a team is a feeling that makes a packed club round at Leichhardt Oval or a Swans game at the SCG so special. Back when the Wallabies were a force, there was a similar atmosphere at ANZ Stadium for Bledisloe Cup clashes. It's what made the Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers such unforgettable events. There is a wall of support as most of the crowd cheers on the same plays, boos the same decisions, rides the same highs and lows, and, ultimately, craves the same result.
It doesn't get any bigger in terms of crowd size or atmosphere than a State of Origin decider at ANZ Stadium. Of the 82,565 people in attendance, you could estimate at least 70,000 were cheering the Blues on to win back-to-back titles.
The last time a Game 3 at ANZ Stadium was a decider was in 2013 when Queensland triumphed. Before that it was 2008, Queensland won that game as well. The last time New South Wales won a decider anywhere was in 2005 and that was at Suncorp Stadium. The year before, 2004, was the last time New South Wales won a decider at ANZ Stadium. Blues fans had to wait 15 years to have that feeling again.
The Blues players made a grand entrance onto the playing field with the big screen showing their new route through a State of Origin adorned tunnel from the Centre of Excellence fields next door. They ran out through a different gate to the Queenslanders and the crowd greeted them with enough noise to erase any memory of Guy Sebastian's performance.
The first half was punctuated by 12 penalties; its stop-start nature seemed to suit Queensland. Mitchell Pearce had some good early touches and was noticeably keen to get involved defensively. As expected Cameron Munster was causing havoc whenever he joined in from fullback, but it was a Corey Norman grubber kick which led to the first try to Felise Kaufusi 16 minutes into the game.
Unlike Game 2 in Perth, the Blues hadn't really looked like scoring with James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic both kept relatively quiet. That was until Tedesco skipped across field and around Daly Cherry-Evans to open the Maroons up down the left-hand side of the field. Two penalties later and Paul Vaughan crashed over, the conversion levelling the scores at 8, which they remained until the break despite a field goal attempt by Cherry-Evans.
The referees must have had a good hard look in the mirror and realised it wasn't all about them and their whistle blowing. There may or may not have been a message delivered; though who knows, they may have gotten wind of how Phil Gould was ripping them apart in the commentary box. But, whatever the reason, they put their whistles away and only awarded two second-half penalties.
New South Wales began to dominate. James Tedesco was starting to find room against a tiring defence. He chimed into the backline 20 metres out and backed himself all the way to the line to give the Blues the lead. The crowd roared.
Damien Cook was beginning to make his trademark darting runs from dummy half. His try in the 59th minute of the game was something next level for Cook. As he approached fullback Cameron Munster, Cook noticed that his support players were a bit off the pace. Instead of drawing and passing, Cook would have to go it alone and he did with a weaving series of steps and stutters that left Munster grasping. The crowd stood and roared.
Leading by 12 with only 20 minutes remaining, the Blues were surely home. Then the Maroons did what they have always done; they played out the full 80 minutes with passion and pride. With a weary James Maloney making errors with the ball, so too in defence, Queensland scored the two converted tries needed to level the scores.
With the decider headed for golden-point extra-time, Queensland made big metres from the kick-off. On the last tackle they just weren't close enough for Cherry-Evans to take a shot at field goal, instead he put up a high kick, handing over possession to NSW.
Into the last minutes of the game and the ball found its way into the hands of Mitchell Pearce on halfway. He threw a looping ball to Tom Trbojevic who drew the winger and sent Ferguson on a run down the sideline. As Munster closed in cover, Ferguson sent the ball inside to Tedesco who spun away from the converging defence to cross in the corner.
The noise was unbelievable.
Not only had New South Wales won a decider at home, they had done it with one of those last-second heart-breaking plays that have historically nearly always been Queensland's domain.
Coach Brad Fittler was clearly impressed with final play.
"I was ready to go into extra-time, to take our chances," Fittler said.
"Mitchell Pearce finding that space at the death, that's not luck, he's gone through a lot of disappointment, a lot of blokes wouldn't have thrown it and we would have gone into extra-time.
"And they were going better than us. It would have been nice to finish it earlier, we were cruising there for a while."
New South Wales had won back-to-back State of Origin series for the first time since 2005. The tide has finally turned. The brutal selection moves by Fittler and his team between Game 1 and Game 2 had been vindicated.
"That's what I'm trying to create. You have to work really hard to be here and when you're here you have to work really hard. We're trying to set really high standards," Fittler added.
Queensland will be back next year, trying their best to stop a hat-trick of NSW series victories. Coach Kevin Walters was proud of their performance and adamant he would be back for more.
"I'm not going to be critical of anyone tonight. I'm sitting here as a pretty proud Queenslander," Walters said.
"We made some real progress this year."
The large crowd slowly filtered out of ANZ Stadium, the majority carrying a euphoric feeling largely foreign to them. They had witnessed exactly what they had turned up to see: A thrilling contest, some big hits, great tries and, ultimately, a New South Wales victory. The ringing in their ears and dryness in their throats souvenirs of one of rugby league's greatest experiences.