State of Origin I

What a game! The amazing thing about State of Origin football is that so often lives up to the hype. NSW won 17-16 over QLD but with the Maroons all at sea during the first half you could have been forgiven thinking the 2nd was going to blow open and NSW romp home.

The NSW forwards dominated the first half. Blues backrower Chris O’Donnell pulled off some huge hits early on but suffered a suspected fracture thumb and had to leave the field. But the rest of the NSW pack were playing out of their skins. Willie Mason seemed to crack the QLD defense open almost at will and Kite, Simpson and O’Meley ran hard all night. The defense was brutal and it seemed to have QLD rattled. You’d thunk that it was QLD who had the disruptive lead up to the game, not NSW.

While NSW played well the amount of dropped ball by QLD was pathetic in the first half. Early on, with good field position, QLD dropped the ball twice. Once leading to NSW’s first try when Finch went over after a bust by Money Bags Gaz. Greg Inglis had a schocker of a first half and one of his fumbles lead to the second try by Blues winger Matt King. Lockyer (whose powers seem to be fading) then gives away a penalty after putting the restart out in the full. Soon after Big Willie barges over for a well deserved try. NSW 14-0 and halftime can’t come soon enough for QLD.

After half time the game still seemed to be heading for a comfortable NSW win but QLD got their kicking game together and that helped to relieve the pressure. They also started to put passes to hand, not to ground and got some roll on with the forwards. It was some old fashioned biff that got QLD back into the game. Justin Hodges received a penalty after a tussle with Eric Grothe (who otherwise had a fine debut game). From the resulting set Greg Inglis starts his redemption with a try. About 10 minutes later Inglis completes his redemption by denying Matt King a try. NSW appeared to have dropped in intensity and QLD were starting to finish over the top.

The last 10 minutes were the stuff of Origin legend. Inglis put his redemption beyond doubt with a try after a NSW mistake. And then, in the 75 minute, Danny Buderus is penalized for punching. The trouble was he was retaliating to being kicked as he was rising to play the ball. Again from the ensuing set of six, QLD score through Steve Bell. Thurston ever so coolly pots the goal from the sideline and it is 16 all! A golden point finish beckons.

NSW get possession again and after a few good runs are 40 metres out from the QLD goal. Finch, NSW’s fourth best half-back, takes a shot at field goal and puts it straight over. NSW are ahead by one with a minute to go.But it is not over yet. After the kick off NSW play it safe with one off hits ups to soak up the time. And then Money Bags Gaz knocks on with 25 seconds to go. Nurse! Bring me my pills! QLD get the ball from the scrum but thankfully they can’t get the field position for a field goal attempt before the full time siren. NSW wins 17-16 after a great 2nd half comeback by QLD.

Man of the match was easily Willie Mason. He was outstanding in a great effort by the NSW forward pack (Hindy had a great game as well in both attack and defense – some hits near the end of the game were brutal). Brett Finch had a great game at half-back after only being called into the side yesterday. For QLD Inglis had a great game after his poor first half. I though the QLD forwards were outplayed by the NSW pack and none really stood out for me. Bowen had his usual ups and downs but his ups helped the Maroons back into the game while Thurston started to look good the longer the game went on.

It could have so easily been a NSW white wash but full credit to QLD for fighting back to make it another classic Origin encounter. Both teams will take a lot from this game and I’m tipping, barring injury, both sides will not make any changes for State of Origin II back in Brisbane.

Bring it on!

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Amanda
15 years ago

I went to bed at half time. D’oh!

Rafe
15 years ago

NSW played some great football in the second half and looked like blowing the cane toads off the park but they fell down every time with sloppy work in the last ten or fifteen yards. Was it staged? NSW gifted ten points to the toads, courtesy of Grothe, Buderis and the referee.

Interesting to see that Hindmarsh was used as a running forward as well as a tackling machine and he had a long rest on each side of the break. Apart from dropping a catch “in the slips” he had such a fine defensive game with a couple of potential try savers, he could have pipped Willie for the man of the match.

Rafe
15 years ago

A thought for Beaver Menzies as well. What is this geriatric running on? His defensive work, borh front on and cleaning up was on a par with Hindmarsh and he was calling for the ball to score the first try. Finch crossed the line but the Beaver would have grounded it near the posts.

Shaun
15 years ago

Yes Menzies had a great game playing 10 years younger it seemed. With Hindy his problem is that he does the same thing game after game and it now expected. For him to stand out he has to have an all out blinder. He did a lot more in attack and made a few busts.

Grothe’s penalty was stupid but he had a good game otherwise. Buderus was robbed though. Penalty should have gone to NSW for kicking in ruck.

Amanda, you should know better. Origin is never over at halftime.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

Is it possible for anyone involved with both thugby codes or ozzie rules to ever admit there is a bad game.
The first half was atrocious.
By the time i was going to bed I turned on the ABC to hear them agreing and heard the field goal.

It was a close match but it was terrible in terms of skill.

Shaun
15 years ago

Only when your team loses Homer. Even then the hard core fan can almost extract something noble from defeat.

vee
vee
15 years ago

That’s Luke O’Donnell. Agreed on Mason though Finch couldn’t be far behind.

On Hindmarsh, if I ever had free reign to pick a team he’d be the first player picked.

The poor skills come from poor refereeing in that game, players hanging around too long in tackles and the ref letting it go on and on – they loosen the rules too much for Origin if anything they should be tougher.

I was ready to blow up if QLD won cos of that Buderus penalty

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
15 years ago

That’s a good summary of the game, Shaun. A couple of points, though.

I don’t condone foul play, but the guy who niggled Buderus didn’t kick as such IMHO. I thought he nudged Danny in the head with his knee. I didn’t think it was dangerous, but no doubt the judiciary will have a look at it, as they should. It’s frustrating, I know, but having suffered Benny Elias all those years I can’t feel too sorry.

The only significant differences in the stats were missed tackles (24 NSW to 44 for us) and offloads (16 to 2). NSW lost possession 15 times to our 11, we completed 30 sets to NSW 26 and we had 52% of possession.

NSW always looks better with the ball, but it is often not reflected on the score board (though there have been a few blowouts in recent years).

On meritorious players, the only one I’d add is Justin Hodges, who consistently made good ground against his much-vaunted opposition.

Rafe
15 years ago

Good call Brian, the “kicking” incident looked like frusration more than malice, and the best outcome would have been “play on”. Much the same for the Hodges Grothe confrontation, Hodges looked as though he was going to let go and Grothe just beat him to the punch. Overall the game was played in the right spirit, allowing for the intensity of the contest.

The NSW completion rate was dreadful, at some point of the game (must have been the second half) there was a call that they had not completed the last six sets (or thereabouts).

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
15 years ago

The ‘Grasshopper’ would have played on.

Ken Parish
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Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

A “nudge” to the head? Barry Gomersall as model of whistle-blowing restraint? You’re trying to wind us up, aren’t you?

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
15 years ago

Only partly, Ken. I think the culprit (Dallas Johnson) was niggling rather than being malicious. I’d need to see another replay. No doubt the judiciary will decide, but sometimes they make a meal of these things by imputing intent when they can’t possibly know.

Gommersall would have had to deal with the Buderus/Johnson incident, because it happened with ball in hand. But he almost certainly would have ignored the Hodges/Groth matter because the play had moved on. He did that all the time, as you surely know, on the basis that he ignored players who wanted to fight rather than play and if you ignored them they would eventually rejoin the play.

BTW I’m not saying Gomersall was a great whistle-blower.