Almanac Rugby League – Queensland, just.

Yet another fine, fine example of the State of Origin genre last night:

Queensland come out powerfully with their two props creaming New South up the guts, and with the defence back-pedalling, Cam Smith, JT and Locky going nuts and throwing the ball around beautifully. They score and it looks like the same thing is going to happen in the following five minutes.

The Blues dig deep to absorb the battering, even though visibly tired early. They finally win some possession, and the young Jamie Soward shows he has some class, trying to hold thigs together, mopping up in defence, but more importantly helping lead the attack. He looks to be a natural organiser.

The Maroons score again, and then pin the Blues down five times in their own in-goal. Whne the Maroons look like they will just blow the game apart they are given the poison chalice of a penalty; poison because the prudent thing is to take it to make the score 12-0, when they have all the momentum, and they are a combination of punches away from knocking NSW out. JT kicks with a real draw and he is in the nasty predicament of having to aim outside the right edge of the golfer’s cup. He overcooks it and the footer cannons in to the upright.

Phil Gould, who has been as intriguing as always in reading the game, rightly observes a change in momentum and Soward et al have the pace and skills to exploit a tired defence. Both teams are tired – the beauty of the limited interchange – and there are going to be opportunities. It turns in to a case of any good attack having increased potential to get the rewards.

The first two attacks come from the Blues. And suddenly they are 12-10 up with me holding a dud ticket (how could I resist the Maroons at $1.53?).

I can’t believe it. The crowd at Lang Park can’t believe it.

There is no panic. The Maroons know, while they may score from 70 out, they are more likely to score if they win field position, and so they stick to their guns. They work the ball forward. Cam Smith who has led from dummy half all night rallies the big fellas.

When 20 out they work a left-side set play. Lockyer receives wide of the ruck. To his outside he has a flat (outball) option and deeper (second man) outside options as well. They have spread well. The defence is not only tired, it is in three minds. Lockyer knows Slater is coming on the inside and turns the footy back. Slater bursts through. And scores.

It is a magnificent move, especially given the importance of the moment.

Wally Lewis lauds the play.

The game is not over. The Blues have a couple more sets but the Maroons hang on.

Spectacular? At times. A classic? No. A ripper? Yes, because the scoring system in rugby league rewards defence as much as it does attack. It’s easy to punch holes in the bucket that is weak defence. But New South were so determined, and nearly pulled off an unlikely victory.

Queensland were just too experienced, and (especially) classy, in the end.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo12, Anna11, Evie9. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. Adam Muyt says

    Experience and class, you said it John. But last night would have given the young Blues confidence they can match the awesome Maroon machine, particularly defensively. Particularly impressed with Duggan’s effort at fullback – bar one mistake – under lots of pressure. Oh yes, and the Phil Gould comments impressed too, as always. His string of ‘Oh God!’ had me chuckling away. Reads the play very well and never afraid to say how dumb or smart a decision really is. RL commentary is gloriously simple.

  2. For all the abuse he cops, Phil Gould is, in my opinion the absolute best analayser of his sport IN THE WORLD. His ability to pick up changes in momentum 3 or 4 minutes before the results of that change become obvious is just unparalleled. Yes he can carry on a bit at times, and he can be frustrating, but is deep understanding of the game is amazing and every game he commentates he teaches me something about the game I never before knew.

  3. Ian Syson says

    I thought that NSW didn’t seem ‘up for it’ for the first ten minutes, some fairly weak defending and overall commitment. But that changed. I went and had a bath wen the cockroaches scored their second try. Was shamefaedly pleased to see we’d won when I got out.

    One thing I noticed is that living in Victoria this past 17 years the thrill of Origin is starting to wear off for me. I realised I didn’t care as much as I used to. This is perhaps a product of Qld’s recent dominance as well. Wash my mouth out but maybe a cockroach series win would be good for the game . . . . . . nah.

  4. Greg Mallory says

    Queensland great throughout the game, brilliant try at the death orchestrated by The Spine (Smith, Thurston, Lockyer, Slater) – cockroaches need to ‘stick’ with the same team, very dangerous with the ball in a bit of space. Bird, Pearce & Soward key ball players. Queensland by 1 in Sydney.

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