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



Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, looking at the points you may have missed from the second game of the State of Origin series. Queensland triumph 18-16 to square the series at 1-all after New South Wales won game one in Brisbane. 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.


Game two of the series at ANZ Stadium saw Queensland hit an early lead after an acrobatic four-pointer to Valentine Holmes before the home side ran in three straight tries in 14 minutes. But a second half double to Dane Gagai, plus a flawless three from three kicking display on the night (3/3) from Johnathan Thurston, got Kevin Walters’ side the win. Ironically, in game three last year at the Sydney Olympic Park venue when NSW were 18-14 winners in the dead-rubber Thurston only kicked one from three.


Andrew Fifita was the hero for NSW in game one with 171 metres from 15 metres but was kept relatively quiet in game two making 95 metres from 12 runs with two tackle breaks. Queensland’s top performer in the forwards was Josh McGuire with 139 metres from 14 runs which also saw the Bronco forward make a match best 52 tackles (joint with Blues hooker Nathan Peats.)


In a losing side St George Illawarra custodian Josh Dugan, starting at right centre for NSW, came up with several key plays to help his side retain their lead until Gagai’s 77th minute try. Dugan held Michael Morgan up over the line just before halftime to preserve a 16-6 lead. Dugan switched to fullback in the second half when James Tedesco was removed for a Head Injury Assessment. Dugan halted Cooper Cronk who had broken the Blues’ front line with 11 minutes to go before then snaffling the kick later in that set. Dugan certainly, whilst beaten on the night, had a better evening than right centre Dylan Walker from game two last year – who conceded four penalties in one 17 minute period.


As New South Wales had a 10-point lead at the break, it was a huge surprise in the second half they didn’t target Queensland playmaker Thurston who appeared to have picked up a severe shoulder injury (possibly a rotator cuff tear according to @nrlphysio on Twitter.) On multiple occasions NSW ran their sets to the left side of their attack as Thurston retreated to defend on the right wing. To go with flick passes out the back from Jarryd Hayne when leading 16-12 the option taking and game manangment by Laurie Daley’s side left a lot to be desired in the second stanza.


The Maroons get a chance to win the main series for a third year running in three weeks’ time on July 12 in Brisbane back at Suncorp Stadium. If they do so it will be the sixth occasion Queensland has come from 1-0 down to win the Stage of Origin shield. But if NSW win, Boyd Cordner will become the second NSW skipper after Danny Buderus to win an Origin series in their first series as captain. In the earlier fixture, New South Wales’ Under 18s side, defending a 26-0 win last year, triumphed 35-28 after they came from 18-10 down at the break.


This Origin wrap first appeared 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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