First of all let me say thank you to the 34 footballers that put on one of the best sporting contests I have ever seen.
The 100th game of State Of Origin football will long be remembered as a war of attrition. A game that was as physically taxing as any sporting contest I have ever seen.
Queensland started the game ominously when after five minutes a scrum play ended with Darius Boyd scoring in the corner. The Queensland backs completely bamboozled the Blues defense and it looked like it might be a long night for New South Wales.
The big turning point in the match happened early in the first half when Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk broke his arm. As soon as he left the field the Queensland attack looked disjointed. It didn’t really recover for a good 40 minutes or so.
Daly Cherry-Evans came on as his replacement but he didn’t really settle into the game until later in the match. Thurston took over Cronk’s usual role and played closer to the ruck, but it just knocked his game off a little and didn’t allow him to play wider where he traditionally causes more damage at State Of Origin level.
It was the 19th minute when Jarryd Hayne, who looked like the most dangerous player on the field all night, started to carve Queensland up. He found some space out wide and the Morris twins finished off a sensation try scoring play. The try scorer, Brett Morris, dislocated his shoulder scoring the try. He looked like he was gone for the game. In true Origin spirit he got up and played on. It would be the only courageous moment in this game.
In the 27th minute there was a scary moment when Josh Reynolds was put on report for a dangerous lifting tackle on Brent Tate. Reynolds is expected to miss State Of Origin two even if he takes the early guilty plea. That will be a big blow for New South Wales as he played very well in this game.
A Trent Hodkinson helped the Blues take a 6-4 lead before Jarryd Hayne once again injected himself into the game, scoring a scrambling try in the 32nd minute that really game the Blues a lot of ascendancy. It gave New South Wales a 10-4 lead going into halftime, and while the Blues dominated the first half, Queensland seemed like they would be able to come back in this one.
A penalty early in the first half game New South Wales a gift two points from in front. Their lead was now more than a converted try at 12-4. With the Queensland attack looking off, this was a big lead.
New South Wales captain Paul Gallen looked down for the count early in the second half when hit from behind without the ball by his old mate Josh Papalii. This was one of those games where it looked like a number of players would leave the field injured only for them to get up and continue playing, as Gallen did himself.
Queensland winger Darius Boyd struck for a second time in the 56 minute as Queensland attack started to find traction again. Say what you like about Boyd, he always gets the job done for Queensland and was a constant threat out wide all night. The try, that went unconverted, brought Queensland back into the game. New South Wales still lead 12-8, but it was game on once again.
Queensland had all the ball in the second half, with New South Wales working the ball off their own try line for most of the second stanza. Queensland threw everything at New South Wales, but the Blues defense was sensational.
As Queensland attack settled and Cherry-Evans started to take over, New South Wales scrambled to stop try after try. It was fitting that possibly the biggest play of the game would be a defensive one.
In the 73rd minute Darius Boyd crossed the line, but a ball and all tackle by Brett Morris, who was playing on with a shoulder he dislocated in the first half, stopped Boyd from touching down.
The last couple of minutes saw the referee’s make some very bad calls against New South Wales with a phantom knock on gifting Queensland another chance at the New South Wales line. The Maroons threw everything they had at New South Wales but it was not enough. Even a last minute penalty after the siren that gave Queensland one last play was stifled as New South Wales took out one of the best game of State Of Origin I have ever seen with a 12-8 scoreline.
There were a few things that come out of this game for me.
First of all, the New South Wales pack had it all over Queensland for most of the night. To Queensland credit they never stopped trying, but they just lacked the raw go forward that New South Wales were able to call upon at times.
Greg Inglis was kept very quiet in this game. New South Wales did an amazing defensive job on him.
Billy Slater was one of many players injured in this game. If he can play on through the rest of the series I have no doubt the Queensland selectors will stick with him. As a New South Wales fan, I hope they do. Greg Inglis needs to see as much of the ball as possible. If he was at fullback for Queensland this would be a whole different series.
The one thing I really liked about this game is that the players were just allowed to get on with it. The referee’s for the most part just let both teams decide the game. It’s kind of sad that we don’t see that often enough. Just let the sides play and stop looking for every single little penalty you possibly can find.
I thought the Blues halves pairing of Reynolds and Hodkinson played well considering it was their first game. Hodkinson in particular showed more than Mitchell Pearce ever did in a sky blue jersey.
The best player on the field however was easily Jarryd Hayne. Every time he touched the ball he looked like he was going to do something special. He was a nightmare for the Queensland defense all night!
This was just a classic State Of Origin content. A true game for the ages. Both teams will have changes for game two, mostly due to injury. You can be sure that all the focus will be on whether the Blues can wrap up their first series victory in nearly a decade on home soil!
Stayed tuned to LeagueFreak.com as I’ll be posting my State Of Origin game one player ratings!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com