Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin Game 3: the aftermath

 

If you ever needed convincing that there’s no such thing as a dead rubber in State of Origin, then tonight’s match proved the point. What a game! Congratulations to 34 warriors of the code for putting on such an excellent display of ‘the greatest game of all’. No quarter was asked or given, no backward steps taken, total commitment was given for the full eighty minutes, we saw lots of running football, there was utter exhaustion at the end, and the result was in doubt until the final whistle. 10 out of 10!

 

There’s an old saying in rugby league that defence wins matches. We saw it tonight. NSW defended grimly for 37 minutes of the first half and held the Maroons to just eight points (when they could/should have scored about 18) before taking the only two chances to come their way to lead 12-8 at the break. I expected the Blues to run away with it in the second half with that momentum. However, NSW was scoreless in the second half in spite of a good share of possession and a lot of good field position, especially towards the end of the game. Queensland took two chances they weren’t able to in the earlier games and got home on great scrambling defence.

 

There were a number of winners and learners at an individual level. For Queensland, the biggest winner was Daly Cherry-Evans, the much maligned half-back, who had a blinder and, hopefully, won back some kudos among fans north of the border. He ran the ball dangerously, kicked with precision, backed up superbly to score what turned out to be the winning try, and defended strongly. My Man of the Match by a wide margin. Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes were great – again! One or two Maroons probably saved their Origin careers with good performances – Coen Hess in particular. Kevvie Walters grew even more in stature by guiding his under-manned team to a win to finish a much-disrupted series on a high.

 

For NSW, the biggest winner was Freddie Fittler, the creative rookie coach who made some big changes to personnel, infused them with spirit and inspired them to win. Well played, Freddie. Damian Cook starred yet again and was unlucky not to be player of the series. (James Maloney had claims in that area, too.) Nathan Cleary put in another solid effort and the Trbojevic brothers were made for this level of the game.

 

It’s an insult to call anyone who plays at this level a ‘loser’ and I refuse to do so. Let’s say instead that there were a few blokes on both sides who will learn from this game (and series), be better for having been there, and let’s hope they might be back at some stage down the track. Corey Oates was on a hiding to nothing after being called into this dead rubber and struggled to make an impact from few opportunities; Tariq Sims will learn to add more discipline to his aggression; Latrell Mitchell will learn about consistency throughout a full series.

 

Farewell, Billy Slater, one of those who has been a true ornament to the game. GOAT full-back? Quite possibly, certainly of his era. Gracious in his post-match comments, humble in manner, a bloke who hasn’t forgotten where he came from or the privilege he has had to play at such a high level for so long. To be brutally fair, others deserved both Man of the Match and Man of the Series accolades but it’s a tough bastard who would deny the champion this final recognition.

 

Tonight is one of those rare occasions where everyone emerged as a winner – NSW won the series, Queensland won the game, Billy Slater went out a winner in his final representative match and rugby league produced a great showcase. On the basis of what we saw tonight, next year’s series should be a corker! NSW deservedly won the series because they won the big moments in Games 1 and 2, yet Queensland won Game 3 with possibly their most depleted side of the series and will be stronger next year.

 

Bring it on!

 

 

Ian Hauser can accept that players under pressure make mistakes. He just can’t stand making mistakes when he’s playing with words! You can check out his editing services here.

 

About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I appreciate those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

Comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed your coverage of the 2018 State of Origin series, Ian.
    Let’s hope normal service resumes next year and the Maroons put the Blues back in their box.

  2. Ian Hauser says:

    Thanks, FP. It has been an interesting series as we move into the post-streak era. I think that ‘normal services will be resumed’ in that neither side is likely to dominate for very long in the years ahead and the Shield will move back and forth across the Tweed on a regular basis. Perhaps we need to get ready for some more exciting games like the other night, matches where that historical margin between winning and losing is wafer thin and where one silly penalty or one false read in defence will be enough to decide a game, maybe even a series. (As long as it’s not The Bunker deciding it!) With heaps of great talent available to both States, Origin looks safe for a long time to come.

  3. Ian, from memory, one of next year’s Origin games is scheduled for Perth’s new stadium.
    If so, I’m sure it will be a full house.
    I reckon most Sandgropers will be in the Maroons’ camp.

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