Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin Game 3: A deserving finale




In Origins gone by, teams had time between contests to settle. Previous years would’ve given Queensland’s inexperienced side a chance to move on from last week’s drubbing at ANZ Stadium and formulate a plan for the decider. But this year’s congested three-week contest gave Wayne Bennett little time to restore his side’s confidence and halt New South WalesO momentum.


This is one of many factors that make this Origin win one of the sweetest in Maroon history. There’s the obvious element of being labelled the worst Queensland side in history – it’s the type of 1989 Ashes slur that always causes upsets. Everyone went into a packed Suncorp Stadium without a hint of expectation. Game one had been enough of a shock, but NSW’s return to form last week made this finale utterly unpredictable. Would Queensland revive themselves, or was it for the Blues to lose?


Bennett’s first move was astute. Instead of relying on Game Two being an aberration, he made widescale changes to add an edge of excitement to Queensland’s Game Three line-up. Harry Grant was given a golden chance to start his Origin career, while Valentine Holmes returned to the wing position where he has always threatened in a similar vein to Addo-Carr. The latter immediately paid off when Holmes broke the deadlock after an early penalty. After converting his own try, the 50,000 strong home crowd roared. It was the boost Queensland needed after coming up against a blue tidal wave the previous Wednesday.


But the Blues have class all over the field – you don’t win consecutive Origin series without a layer of fortitude. James Tedesco is one such fire-starter for the Blues and he soon upped the pressure. His rise in intensity forced an error from rookie Corey Allan; the Blues snatched an errant opportunity to level the scores. Unfortunately, NSW’s tough luck with injury soon kicked off when Tedesco was knocked out cold. All of a sudden, the Blues had to negate a bursting crowd without their star.


The blow was made even worse in the following stages. Without Tedesco’s smarts and positioning (which could be attributed to his opportunistic try), NSW had no way of breaking the stalemate forced by Queensland’s confronting pressure.


On the other side, Cam Munster is one playmaker who can split open proceedings. With a larrikin smirk and a waddle behind the line, his vision is what sets him apart. He split open the Blues and set up Edrick Lee for a massive try. It was a momentum changer; a vital play in a tense match.


After the half, Queensland benefited from the momentum. They produced an onslaught of pressure, constantly attacking NSW early and forcing mistakes. Nearly 20 minutes of Queensland dominance passed until they finally gained a penalty kick which Holmes duly converted. In this period, young Harry Grant shone, weaving past tackles and becoming a menace to Blues defenders. Without Tedesco and with their hands already full trying to halt Munster’s creativity, NSW were quickly running out of energy. Grant pounced, dazzling the crowd with a solo effort that pushed the lead out further and came close to shutting the curtains. Youth was beating solid structure.


But with young boldness comes inexperience. NSW had the mental edge and somehow reversed the tide to slide home a quick try. The contest was alive and Queensland went from aggressors to the vulnerable.


With the desperate crowd baying them on in the final ten minutes, NSW took a penalty chance to reduce the margin to a single try. It was a grandstand finish, full of the nerves associated with a young side struggling to climb the mountain. Allan found himself in the sin bin for fouling Addo-Carr, an understandable reaction to the game’s greatest running threat. Kaufusi clung onto the leg of Cleary, scared of his playmaking ability. Line dropouts came and every sinew of Maroon was clinging on for dear life. Cries at Suncorp Stadium went from elated to pleading. A video review had to confirm it but NSW botched a golden chance to level the scores when they dropped the ball.


Minutes earlier, Holmes had spilt a golden chance to end the series. But it was no Herschelle Gibbs moment. Instead, the Blues dropped the Shield and Queensland got to run off for joyful celebrations in front of their adoring fans. It was a finish the Maroons deserved; never write off a side which wears that jumper. It’s also going to be a testing month for Munster’s liver, but all in good health.


Read Ian Hauser’s report on this match HERE.


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  1. Sean, you got the cracker of a game that you hoped for. For a young bloke from below the Murray, you’re developing a very good understanding of both rugby league and the mystical qualities of the Maroon jersey.

    I particularly liked the way you saw the change in the atmosphere late in the game: ‘But with young boldness comes inexperience. NSW had the mental edge and somehow reversed the tide to slide home a quick try. The contest was alive and Queensland went from aggressors to the vulnerable.’

  2. Liam Hauser says

    Sean, I like the comparison of “worst ever” slur to what Australia faced in the lead-up to the 1989 Ashes.
    Another instance that comes to mind is the lead-up to the preceding Ashes series, Down Under in 1986-87. Prominent English cricket writer Martin Johnson reported that there were just 3 problems with the English team: couldn’t bat, couldn’t bowl and couldn’t field. England subsequently gained an unassailable 2-0 series lead before Australia salvaged a 2-1 series loss with a face-saving win at the SCG (Peter Sleep bowled John Emburey in the penultimate over).
    I also remember the lead-up to the 2017 Origin decider when the Maroons were mostly written off in Sydney because Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd were ruled out, while Greg Inglis and Matt Scott were already sidelined. After the Maroons subsequently won comfortably, I was in disbelief at the foolishness of anyone being so dismissive of a team that included Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith. The last thing that any scribes should do to those blokes is give them ammunition and incentive (in other words, provide them with a psychological weapon).
    Some southerners also underestimated the Maroons in the lead-up to the 2015 Origin decider. No need for me to remind anyone how that panned out! Blues coach Laurie Daley was shell-shocked, and couldn’t see it coming. In his autobiography, Corey Parker identified so many motivating factors for the Maroons, and he wondered “how the bloody hell couldn’t you see that one coming?”

  3. Thanks, Sean.

    I had a sneaky feeling that Queensland were going to ambush NSW.

    Another big winner out of last night’s game was Melbourne Storm.

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