Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin 2: A downpour of rain and tries

It’s hard to fathom how State of Origin continues to be as big a spectacle year upon year.

 

It had the potential to fall into the realms of boredom during those years of dominance from Queensland. The theory of having a three-game series each year strays into the repetitive. So it must say something about the quality of the game if Australians nationwide continue to tune in. The second game of the 2019 series at Perth’s Optus Stadium proved just how popular the contest still is.

 

With a packed stadium still split into the factions of sky-blue wigs and clusters of maroon jumpers, the roaring and booing of each side jogging onto the pitch felt hair-splitting even from the couch at home. It doesn’t matter where you go in Australia – Queenslanders and New South Welshmen really don’t like each other when it comes to rugby league.

 

From the first play the brutal encounter at Suncorp Stadium a few weeks ago is carried on to Perth. Hits so hard you can hear the slaps and groans from microphones near the pitch. Bumps that jolt bones and throw mountains of men off their feet. Passes that are as deft as a bum pat. Rugby league is such an intriguing game. When executed poorly it is just a slog-fest of tackles. When performed well, the artistry of passes and set plays holds more grace than these men appear to have.

 

Despite an even start, NSW repeat their initial burst from game one and score the first try through some heavy pressure and clever kicking. The high ball put up for Queensland’s Ponga is perfectly placed to allow potential Sydney AFL recruit Tom Trbojevic to out mark him and carry the ball over the line. Wow. That’s impressive. What a kick by James Moloney.

 

However, before long the Maroons press forward and appear dangerous. Munster and Ponga are different. They don’t immediately run into tackles. They hold off, looking for a chink in NSW’s armour that they can exploit with a daring sidestep or a perfect pass. Suddenly, an unexpected kick appears to have set up Will Chambers for a try, but he is knocked over and is fortuitously gifted a penalty try. All square.

 

From then on, NSW are kicked into a higher gear. They don’t let the Maroons escape. The ball is camped near their try line for the rest of the first half. They hold on strong, but the dam wall is ready to burst. When their tired defence is eventually out-manouvered, two quick tries come before the break. Unlike Game 1, the Blues have chased in on the scoreboard and can now command the second half.

 

And command it they do. 10 minutes into the half and they are more hungry. More desperate. They know that despite a loss in Queensland, a win here puts them in the box seat to win the series. With a fresher defence and some new additions who are proving to be the difference, they waltz all over the tired Maroons. Munster and co don’t ever get a chance to establish some offensive thrusts that could bring them back into the match. Ado-Carr is sensational for the Blues, his pace allowing him to intercept balls and run rings around the opposition. Tedesco’s evasive skills are a joy to behold, setting up numerous tries in both halves with his blistering turn of pace and clever passes. Trbojevic completes a remarkable hattrick of tries. The rain falls in spurts, but when it comes down it really rains. It suits the Blues, who can twist their way around the slipping and sliding Maroons.

 

As the tries continue to be piled on in an annihilation, the New South Welshmen who made the trip to the Western coast are in full voice. They’ve come and conquered a task that appeared daunting. Now they have one hand on the cup.

 

 

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