Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin Game III Review: Face saved but series lost

 

 

As a Queenslander through and through, I must say that any disappointment about this year’s State of Origin series is tempered with relief that the series is over. Gone, but not forgotten.

 

I enjoyed Queensland’s unexpected triumph in Game 3 but in no way did it compensate for the first two games, which NSW won with a combined scoreline of 76-6. The outcome in Game 3 could not mask the fact that the Blues won the series convincingly.

 

Nonetheless, the result in Game 3 reinforced how difficult it is to win an Origin series 3-0, that the pendulum can change quickly and that plenty is at stake for both sides in Game 3 even if the series winner has been decided.

 

To be honest, this year’s series was always destined to be a write-off for the Maroons and something for the Blues to savour. Put bluntly, I knew all along that Queensland never, ever had a hope of winning the series. Injuries to key personnel and further disruptions made a bad situation even worse, while the coach was new to Origin and was really up against it. Jai Arrow’s sacking from Game 3 and coach Paul Green’s press conference in the lead-up were but two examples of just what a sad rabble the Maroons had become. Perhaps this made the result in Game 3 all the more astonishing!

 

It was all doom and gloom for Queensland after being thrashed in the first two games, before a tight and hard fought third game unfolded, with the Maroons scraping home 20-18. It really begs the question: how could things be so different in Game 3 after the first two matches were so predictably one-sided?

 

NSW missed halves duo Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai but this could not be used as an excuse. Man of the Series Tom Trbojevic had a quiet game by his standards. Latrell Mitchell had the chance to force the match into golden point with a penalty goal from halfway in the dying stages, but this strange decision to kick for goal could not be singled out either.

 

The return of Kalyn Ponga made a huge difference for the Maroons while teenage debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scored Queensland’s first try and did not look at all out of place on the big stage. Queensland’s forwards aimed up a lot better than had been the case earlier in the series. Kurt Capewell looked much better in the second row than in the centres. Ben Hunt had perhaps his best Origin game to date and scored two vital tries in the second half.

 

But after getting to an eight-point lead, the Maroons nearly let it slip. The Blues closed the gap to two points with 10 minutes left and then had numerous chances to steal the game but the Queensland defence somehow survived under enormous pressure. This was what Origin is all about!

 

Again, I can only wonder why that couldn’t have happened in the first two games.

 

It was too easy to think that a NSW dynasty was inevitable after the first two matches. Is one surprise result enough to force a total re-think?

 

Only time will tell.

 

 

 

To read Sean Mortell’s review of this match click HERE.

 

 

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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 40 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.

Comments

  1. I think nsw just has some exceptional attacking talent at the moment and much of it, indefensible. Credit to Qld for exploiting a few weaknesses in game 3 but I get the feeling it’s going to to be a tough few years for the Sunshine state in origin

  2. At last, for us neutrals, there was a competitive match. Thanks Liam.

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