Almanac Rugby League: State of Origin – Game 1: the aftermath


Well, that’s Game 1 of the 2018 series out of the way. NSW scored a deserved 22-12 win at the MCG tonight to head home to Sydney one up in the series with Game 2 to come in front of their home crowd. Queensland will head home to think it over and try to work out how to fight back in Game 2.


Speed thrills and speed kills! The speed of NSW through the middle created the chances and the speed of the back-up finished it off. It killed Queensland’s defensive core and eventually created a scoreboard gap too big to overcome. Origin 1 had more open play than we’ve come to expect from the series opener and that was always likely to favour the speedier NSW team. That’s how it turned out and so the match went pretty much the way I expected. The final score was a pretty fair reflection of the play. I don’t think either side has much to complain about.


Cook and Tedesco exploited the middle third with speed and evasion. They made too many breaks, Queensland missed too many tackles in that part of the field, and the cavalry rolled up to finish it off. Maloney had his best game yet in Blue and was unlucky not to be chosen as man of the match. The youngsters did coach Fittler proud, especially in defence where they were expected to be something of a liability.


By contrast, the Maroons were too predictable up the middle, too easily picked off and their backs had too little room to do very much.  A few strange options in the attacking quarter didn’t help their cause. There’ll need to be some tweaking of that side of the game plan before Game 2. Gagai was very good yet again, Kaufusi gave everything, Cooper is a rock and Munster has what it takes to confuse the defence.


Thankfully the referees did their bit and let it roll. They were largely invisible, quite a compliment, although nit-pickers will point to a few missed forward passes.


The crowd was recorded at just over 87,000. The real question, in the context of playing Origin games in Melbourne, is about how many of them were paying spectators. Don’t expect to get an answer to that one.


Heading to Sydney for Game 2, NSW will be unchanged, injuries and suspensions permitting. Fair enough. They’ll be confident, and so they should be – one up in the series and on home turf. The test will be to see if they have more in them than they showed tonight. The experience should stand them in good stead. Complacency will be their worst enemy.


Queensland will hope that Slater and Gillett will be available to add a bit more experience, flair and grunt. I’m not sure who should miss out for them. No-one disgraced themselves tonight. Perhaps they just need to get the little things right more often; perhaps they need to rethink their attack.


Did we see the start of a new period in the annals of State of Origin tonight? I think we may have. NSW looked like 2018; Queensland looked a bit like last year’s model. Maybe I’m making a call too early. Let’s see how it pans out.



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


  1. Adam Muyt says

    Thanks Ian, a fair analysis coming from north of the Tweed. Both relief and pleasure in this Blues outpost in Hobart Town.
    Thought the Blues backline was terrific. Tedesco, Cook and the sometimes infuriating Maloney, standouts.
    Can’t understand why Qld persisted with kicking to T.Trbojevic – the man is a fullback, they don’t usually drop the ball or play dumb with kicks. GI was nothing short of awe-inspiring – rose to match the honour of carrying the captaincy.
    Looking forward to Sunday night, 24 June. But the nerves will be about – the Blues have been here before.

  2. Mike Punch says

    Morning all, I think that all NSW tragics will have a lighter step today. NSW did well – but QLD was in it until about 12-15 mins to go – luckily QLD did not pull 2 tries out of the hat in last 10 mins. I’m still concerned with NSW structure in attack – seemed a bit like browns cows in quite a few sets – crabbing sideways a bit too much for mine. QLD will be back breathing fire in Game 2 – if Slater is back he will definitely cause problems with their backline moves and cut-outs sweeping across field. Credit to NSW rookies and Freddy on team picks – definitely a lot of lightning out wide now. How good was Cleary – he was getting whacked with each kick for each set of 6 – credit to him that he just sucked it up. Gus was right too – NSW needs to muscle up on the hits – put a bit of starch into ’em. Game 2 will be huge for a lot of reasons – will be a cracker.

  3. I was at the MCG and the fish and chips were, like the game, acceptable.

    Really, though, I thought it was a flat game and a flat atmosphere. I haven’t seen a replay but there seemed to be a hell of a lot of running from dummy half or one off hit-ups.

    I thought both sets of halves lacked creativity. We hardly noticed Munster.

    T. Trbojevic did not miss a beat. Kicks were often 2metres too deep and he fielded them confidently and easily..

    A couple of Queenslanders were suspect in defence – Kaufusi fell off a lot of tackles. He was dynamic with ball in hand though.

    NSW deserved their win.

    The highlight was meeting Damien Cook’s Mum on the tram.

  4. Stainless says

    I’ll give you a quick but probably unscientific answer to your rather provocative question about paying spectators. I was part of a group in the MCC that paid the going rates for members and their guests. For the latter, the going rate was a hefty $145! I know that in the last few days the MCC was offering additional free guest passes to members who’d already booked and paid for tickets, but I can’t imagine that would have boosted the numbers hugely, given how late the offer came out. There also seemed to be a pretty healthy crowd of genuine (presumably paying) visiting NSW and QLD supporters in the rest of the ground (and around the city). So on all the usual justifications for Melbourne staging a big sporting event like this, I think this one could be said to have been successful, as well as reinforcing our reputation for turning up (and paying) for said events.
    As to the quality of the spectacle itself, a few moments of brilliance punctuated an otherwise pedestrian affair. I’m no expert but I’ve watched enough League to understand what a simple and limited game it is. Frankly, if last night was an example of the game at its pinnacle, then I can understand why NRL crowds are so small for the ordinary games. Melbourne crowds aren’t stupid. We enthusiastically embraced Origin when it was last played here and gave it another chance last night. But as the game chugged monotonously up and down before petering out to an underwhelming finish, the response within the crowd was clearly one of “is that it?” If Melbourne hosts future Origin games, the sell-job is going to be a tough one, because for all the hype surrounding it, we’ve possibly realised that the product just ain’t that good.

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