Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: Origin I, 2017



Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, looking at the points you may have missed from the first game of the State of Origin series. New South Wales ran out 28-4 winners in Brisbane to take a 1-0 series lead. Unlike our normal column you likely saw the fixture between the Blues and the Maroons but this is what we have noted at Five Metre Gap HQ.


Laurie Daley’s Blues side were favourites heading into the game with Queensland missing Johnathan Thurston, a significant absence, and others such as Greg Inglis and Matt Scott to long-term injury but it wasn’t until just before halftime when halfback Mitchell Pearce scored that it felt as if NSW was a strong chance to win game one in the Sunshine State as they did in 2014 (the last time they won an Origin series.) Even allowing for that it probably wasn’t until Queensland’s short drop-out in the second period which saw NSW win possession and subsequently score that the Blues seemed home.


After round 11 of the NRL, we noted Queensland centre Justin O’Neill didn’t have terrific attacking statistics this season (he was the only player among the 14 starting backs to not score a try or be responsible for a try assist to date in 2017) but the Cowboys back ended up a defensive liability as well. Close to the line he missed key tackles which played a part in the NSW triumph – missing six on the night. O’Neill also lost the ball running out of his own in goal area allowing Blues forward Andrew Fifita to score. Queensland coach Kevin Walters will have to think hard about the value of his participation in game two.


Last year, Game one saw Boyd Cordner, now the Blues captain, run for 127 metres as the best NSW forward in that regard but this time around Cronulla forward Fifita ran an ultra-impressive 123 metres in the first half alone. The Blues prop finished with 178 metres from 15 runs to go with his second half try.


Also in game one last year, NSW, well more specially then fullback Matt Moylan, let two kicks bounce on kick return causing his team trouble but on Wednesday evening it was a different story. Whilst there were some good Queensland kicks which caused New South Wales trouble they looked far more assured with Tigers fullback James Tedesco playing the custodian role. Not afraid to offload Roosters-bound Tedesco outran his opposite number Darius Body by 81 metres running for 194 metres with 102 of those on nine kick returns and made a try-saving tackle.


After 15 errors in game one last season, the 2017 opener was a high quality one. A near flawless first half when the only two errors came from attacking plays – such as Queensland winger Corey Oates trying to stretch out and score. The standard had to drop away in the second stanza but only 10 errors for the game was impressive for both sides who finished with 83% (Queensland) and 89% (NSW) completion rates.


This Origin wrap first appeared on on From the sideline of sport


About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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