Game one of the 2012 State Of Origin series was a very interesting game for a number of reasons. I personally didn’t think it was the highest quality game, I think neither side played at their best, but both probably learned a lot from that first game and I think both teams will be thinking hard about not just this series, but the next few series.
New South Wales flew out of the blocks and completely dominated Queensland for the first 18 minutes. They looked sharper, they were making massive meters at will and James Tamou was simply unstoppable.
Early on to me, it looked like selecting Petero Civoniceva was a mistake. I didn’t think Queensland should have selected him for this game and I still feel that way after full time. His go forward wasn’t very good and while he was better in defense, he was someone to be targeted. I think Queensland need to go with someone else for the rest of this series, probably start Hannant in his place.
When Tamou left the field, the game changed completely. New South Wales didn’t have the same advantage up front and Queensland, while they didn’t start to play all that much better, they got back into the contest. New South Wales really started to play down to their level.
There’s no doubt Queensland were beaten up front but out wide, they looked fantastic. Thurston controlled the play really well, Cronk was very good, and Greg Inglis was just a monster all night.
The Queensland left hand side attack game New South Wales problems all night. They kept catching the Blues short of numbers, and with the quality of players out there and the experience they have, its like shelling peas.
Queenslands kicking game was far better than New South Wales. They found the grass on most kicks and got themselves out of trouble on most occasions. On the flip side, Slater was catching the New South Wales long kicks on the full and that counts for so much at this level.
For the Blues, I though Pearce had his best game at representative level. He was strong in both attack and defense. Carney was pretty average. He needed to take on the line but seemed overawed by the occasion. He spent the game looking to pass on every occasion and his goal kicking at the end of the day really hurt New South Wales.
One thing I have to mention is the play of Michael Jennings, who showed his class when given even half decent ball, and Jarryd Hayne, who played his arse off from the wing. Both have been smashed all season for their play at club level, unfairly at times. They both showed their class in this game.
There were a few decisions by the referee’s that were dubious to say the least.
A brilliant tackle on Cooper Cronk was penalized as dangerous when there was nothing wrong with it. Michael Jennings getting ten in the big was hard to argue with when you saw him coming in with a superman punch, but geez, he had plenty of company from both sides that did the same thing.
The biggest controversy though has to be the Greg Inglis try where he cleaned up a knock back by Billy Slater, lost the ball when Robbie Farah kicked the ball out of his hands, knocked it forward, then touched it down.
Somehow, they called it a try! That has not been a try in Rugby League for 117 years! That was a disgraceful decision and the video referee should not get another Origin game after making that call!
In my opinion though, the game turning moment came with New South Wales in the ascendancy. They received a penalty 40 meters out from the Queensland line, they took 30 seconds to make a decision, and then chose to go for goal.
That is what Queensland would have hoped they did, and it was just that mentality of playing it safe rather than going for the kill….it was a turning point and I think the biggest turning point in the game.
So where to for game two?
I think both sides will be just about unchanged for game two. Carney didn’t play well for the Blues but you have to stick with him and hope he comes good. I would also guess that we will see something different on the bench for them, maybe go in with four forwards and pray that injuries don’t force a major reshuffle.
Both sides have a heap of improvement in them. I still think this series could go either way. The result is disappointing for me, but hopefully we can bounce back in game two.
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