Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin III and the NRL Round 16

 

State of Origin reaches its climax for 2019 when the NSW Blues host the Queensland Maroons in Sydney tomorrow night in ‘The Decider’. Remember that Queensland won a hard-fought Game 1 in Brisbane before NSW came back with a crushing win in Game 2 in Perth.

 

Just about everything points to a NSW win. They have a lot of confidence coming off that Perth win and have home ground advantage; they’re a more settled side with a lot to prove in front of their home crowd; they have more players in good club form and potentially more game-breakers. What’s not to like about them?

 

Queensland has a bit of history in their favour. In the past twenty years, each time they’re copped a thrashing, they’ve come back to win the next match. Also, they’ve won something like 7 out of the last 9 ‘deciders’, including the last couple in Sydney.

 

The news this morning is that Matt Gillett is out of the Maroons team, quite a blow given his experience (20 Origin games) and solid work rate in the forward battles. On top of the loss of Kalyn Ponga to injury, the northerners look a bit light on. Debutant Corey Norman is a seasoned NRL campaigner but this throws him in at the really deep end. The final make-up of the run-on team is uncertain with questions over who will replace Gillett as well as who will partner Will Chambers in the centres. Dylan Napa, originally dropped for this game, had come back into the squad but it seems more likely he’ll watch the game while David Fifita gets a starting role.

 

For NSW, the focus will be on Mitchell Pearce, recalled to the side after Nathan Cleary succumbed to injury. Pearce has been in outstanding club form for the Knights but has an unenviable Origin record, never having played in a winning series after playing in only  a handful of wins out of his total of 18 games. This is death or glory for him but he couldn’t come back into the team under better circumstances. He just might get to be on the winning side at last.

 

In my mind, two factors will decide the result. Firstly, will this be a typical, grinding Origin struggle or will it be free flowing? Secondly, the answer to that question will depend on the battle between the forward packs. If Queensland wins the upfront battle, it will be a grind and they’ll fancy their chances. If the more mobile NSW pack dominates, then it will be free-flowing and the Blues have the potency in their backline to blow the game apart as they did in Perth.

 

My heart says Queensland but my head, I hate to say it, says NSW by 12+. On the basis of this prediction, I’d love to be eating humble pie come Thursday.

 

In the NRL, Round 16 produced only one upset result with the latest version of the ‘baby Broncos’ scoring an away win over the very highly fancied Cronulla Sharks. I think only one tipster and ‘Kiss of Death’ got this one right. But just what the result says about either team is beyond me! Maybe Cronulla isn’t what we’ve been led to believe. There seems to be no shortage of cries for the scalp of Shaun Johnson who only a couple of weeks ago was NZ’s dominant force in their win over Tonga. Go figure! Do the Broncos have a bit more in them than we thought? Even Darius Boyd, who I panned leading into this game, produced his best outing of the year. Perhaps we’ll find out more this weekend when the Broncos play the Warriors while the Sharks go to Melbourne to take on the top-of-the-table Storm.

 

In the other three games, the underdog Dragons really took it up to a spluttering Storm and did everything but win. Yet again, it was that man Cameron Smith who made the difference and got the Storm home. However much they’re paying him, it’s probably unders! As I expected, Wests Tigers were very brave against the Roosters but couldn’t sustain their effort. The highlight of that game was the excellent return of Luke Keary for the Roosters. If he stays fit, I can’t see who will beat the eastern suburbs lads come September. In the other match, the Knights couldn’t overcome the loss of their two best players, Pearce and Ponga, and went down to the yo-yo Warriors but only just.

 

Go Queensland!

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. I’m with you on “Go Queensland”, Ian.
    And, please, I hope any team but the Chooks wins the NRL Grand Final.
    I’d love to see the Slippery Eels play the Chocolate Soldiers in the big one.

  2. JASON ANDREW TOPPIN says

    I AM WITH GO QUEENSLAND IAN ALSO….THIS SATURDAY I WILL BE ATTENDING MY FIRST NRL TLESTRA PREMIERSHIP GAME AT AMMI PARK IN ME3;LBOURNE BETWEEN MELBOURNE STOERM(THE TEAM I AM A PASSIONTE FAB OF) AND THE CRONULLA SHARKS. I HOPE AN PRAY MELBOURNE TSORM WILSD THE TALSTRA PREMIERSHIP IN 2-19 I HOPE THYE ROOSTERS LOSR IN THE TWO FINALS AND MAKE MAKE IT ANY FURTHER SO COOPER CRONK CAN G=FUNISH HUS NRL CAREER WITHOUT A SECOND PREMIOERSHIO WITH THE ROOSTERS. IHOPR ER GET TI MEET EITWER SOUTH SYDHEY OR PENRITH I THE NRL GRAQND FINAL.

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