Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin Game II: Speed kills, skills thrill!




Sean Mortell


Just ten years ago it would’ve been unheard of.


A Queensland side, the mighty Maroons, failing to score at their Brisbane fortress of Suncorp Stadium. A haven associated with so much success, epic comebacks and tearful grins. A place where Messrs Thurston, Smith, Cronk and Slater revelled in the one-sided atmosphere and often ground the poor Blues into dust.


But this illusion is slowly disappearing – a fateful mirage for a Maroons side left in absolute tatters after a masterclass New South Wales performance. In the space of a couple of weeks, the Blues have already reclaimed the Origin title. And it all came off a blistering defensive display.


Usually a match report harps on the positive scoring moments – the flashy tries and the gritty conversions in clutch circumstances. But tonight was the opposite. Although the Blues lodged 26 points, their defensive intensity and defining moments when defending will go down as the most memorable moments of this historic display.


The two key moments came after the half time break. Already leading 18-0 following bold tries and brutal gut running, superstar Blue Tom Trbojevic extended his Origin legacy in the 53rdminute. With Xavier Coates open on the left side and without a defender in front of him, the hopeful Queensland crowd were set to cheer home a badly-needed try. But Turbo flew out of nowhere, catapulting across.


If Coates had of placed the ball down with his outside left hand, the try is scored and Origin history changes back to a routine normalcy. But he elects to lunge with his inside right hand, giving Trbojevic enough space to reach the ball and knock it free of Coates’ grasp. The ball spills out of bounds, and it is Blues jumpers huddling in celebration, not Maroons.


At the 72 minute mark, Brian To’o gets in on the act. The score is now 26-0 courtesy of a second Addo-Carr try, this one completed with a silky side step that opens up the laneway to the golden zone. With Queensland now attacking, throwing everything at the line for an unlikely comeback, Feldt finds himself free and over the try line. As he bends his knees to complete the deal, To’o continues stalking him like a persistent lion in the African wilderness.


At the perfect moment, he reaches forward and swipes the ball out of Feldt’s meaty hands, ruining the try. Once again, Blues players flock to To’o and shower him in love.


It does enough to crack the back of a Queensland team who pride themselves on their grit in Origin clashes. But in both matches, the Blues have had a way of breaking their spirits and being tougher for longer. It’s resulted in two of the more one-sided Origin games seen in recent history. With the likes of Trbojevic, Cleary, Tedesco, Mitchell and Addo-Carr roaming the field, they may be starting their own golden age.


Ian Hauser


The good news is that Queensland put in a much better effort in this game; the bad news is that they still lost by 26 points, failing to score for the first time ever in an Origin match in Brisbane. The worrying news is that the Maroons look to be a long way away from being competitive against what must rank as one of the best ever NSW Origin sides. Ah well, we had the streak from 2006-2013. It looks like we might have a drought for a while now.


After a fairly even, fiercely contested first 10 minutes, Latrell Mitchell single-handedly put the game beyond Queensland’s grasp with two plays – a ball strip on Feldt and then a long range intercept try. Tedesco created something out of nothing after 33 minutes for Trbojevic to score and, at 18-0, it was all over at half time. Queensland had their fair share of the play in the second half and created a few half chances but a mixture of poor finishing and desperate NSW defence kept a blank sheet for the Blues even though the game was well won.


Again, it was a case of a well drilled, confident team up against a disjointed mob whose preparation for the game was close on farcical after a series of injuries in the lead-up and, on match day, an eligibility drama. Maybe they did well to get as close as they did!


The NSW forwards hunted as a pack and made easy yards through the middle before using driving defence to curtail any attacking options for the Maroons. Cleary and Luai had time and space to orchestrate their outside men and Tedesco was far more involved this time around to create uncertainty in the Queensland defence. Speed kills, they say, and the speed of NSW across the turf and in their ball movement killed the Canetoads. By contrast, Queensland looked slow and cumbersome.


I expect the likes of Mitchell, Addo-Carr and Tedesco will get the headlines and the forwards will not get the credit they deserve. I find it hard to single out individuals for NSW because it was a 17-man effort (even though their bench didn’t get a lot of playing time). Freddie has them finely tuned and well on song.


For the Maroons, Gagai, Kaufusi, Hunt and Papalii gave everything while Coates, a very late inclusion, deserves to be retained. Cherry-Evans and Munster were given no quarter to create much even though they competed to the end.


It looks very much like a whitewash coming up in what is shaping to be the most one-sided series since Queensland’s wins in 1988-89. Many new Origin records will be created and the fine line between winning and losing will not get a look-in this year. O me miserum!


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  1. Liam Hauser says

    With two matches in Queensland and a combined score of 76-6 to NSW after 2 games, the scoreboard says it all. No sugar-coating it. If an Australian side was picked now, I don’t think a single Queenslander deserves to be chosen.
    To be brutally honest, the Maroons were never a chance of winning this series.
    Oddly though, there have been 3 other times when that was the case (1995, 2001 and last year), yet Queensland won those. It must be said that the circumstances were extraordinary in 1995 (Super League turmoil) and last year (games only a week apart in November, after the NRL season).
    Interestingly, following clean sweeps in 1986, 1989, 1995 and 2000, the other team won the next series. Fortunes can change quickly.
    It’s also worth noting that NSW won each series from 2003 to 2005, before Queensland won 11 of the next 12. From 2003 to 2005, the likes of Brent Tate, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Justin Hodges and Corey Parker were introduced to Origin. Persistence paid off for Queensland in the long term, and I see no reason why this can’t happen again.
    Queenslanders (including yours truly) will just have to settle for the Sheffield Shield, the women’s State of Origin success and women’s cricket title this year. Nothing will take the gloss off the Sheffield Shield glory. Oh, how wonderful it was to see the Bulls thrash NSW by an innings in the final! Nothing will overshadow that. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

  2. Jarrod_L says

    With hindsight, the worst Queensland side in history provided a mere minor hurdle to the bulging Blues tsunami…

    My last 12ish hours of football watching has been dominated by the round ball code (A-League GF win for Melbourne City into Belgium’s tight win over reigning champs Portugal at Euro); a calculated gamble to sideline rugby league that unfortunately (or fortunately?) bore fruit with the sad result for all Queenslanders.

    At least the women held on!

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