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How Walters rated the Maroons in Origin I

I think State of Origin I lived up to the hype and expectation, it was really a great game of Origin footy. Typically the match had its fair share of dramas, with most of the critical refereeing decisions going the Maroons' way. If New South Wales were to win, they needed these decisions to go their way.

The Blues needed to get away to a good start and they did that. They possibly could have been further in front in that opening 20 minutes – they had a lot of possession but couldn’t quite put the final nail in, which could have been the difference. But Queensland, as usual, just managed to hang in there with some terrific scrambling defence on their tryline. In the end that proved the difference.

That has been a trademark for Queensland since the start of Origin: just hang in there when times are tough and things aren’t going your way, because before long you will get some possession and field position, and it will turn around. This Queensland team is no different and the belief and trust in this team is something to be very proud of.

We all know the Maroons can score points – given enough possession and field position they will come up with a try or two. Queensland constructed two good tries down the left edge. It is a side they were always going to attack and be potent with Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis, and Darius Boyd got the rewards off the back of those two all night.

There was a lot of talk about Boyd being out of form, but when you play with the elite players it brings out the best in you and the good players just stand up in the Origin arena. Boyd certainly did that and proved he belonged in the Maroon jersey. Again the belief in this Queensland team among its players gave him the confidence he needed to rise to another level.

For me there were two turning points. The first was when Michael Jennings had a mini brain explosion and consequently was sin-binned. It was just a little bit of an explosion from him to come in and do what he did, and it cost them. He played well when he returned on the field and he made up for it, but the sin-binning changed the game's momentum, no doubt.

The other big moment for me was when New South Wales decided to take a penalty goal from 40 metres out. Todd Carney missed the shot at goal, which would have levelled the scores. It is easy in hindsight, but I thought it was a great opportunity for them find touch, mount some pressure with their attack and take it right to the Queensland side.

If they kick the goal and level up the game, who knows? When you make a decision like that, you have to make it work. Unfortunately for the Blues, it didn’t work out.

NSW were very good on the night and they will be a better team in Sydney.

From a Queensland point of view the boys go to Sydney knowing that one more win will secure their seventh series win in a row. I’m a believer and a fan of this fantastic Queensland team.

It's great to be a Queenslander.

PLAYER RATINGS

Billy Slater 7.5 – One of his quieter Origin games. He didn’t get many opportunities, but was involved in one of the tries.

Darius Boyd 8 – Picked up two tries and was defensively really good. He had an outstanding game and showed his class.

Greg Inglis 8 – Wreaked havoc on the left side of the field, and terrorized the New South Wales right side defence.

Justin Hodges 7 – Limited opportunities, but great in defence.

Brent Tate 8 – Had that real Origin look about him, he has never let Queensland down. He did some nice Origin plays and you expect that from Brent.

Johnathan Thurston 7.5 – He steered Queensland’s attack and it was good to see him finally get that number six jersey. Played really well.

Cooper Cronk 7 – Was a little bit quite on the night. He tried a few things, he’ll be much better for the run. He did what he had to do.

Matt Scott 7.5 – Led the Queensland forwards well through the middle of the field and that is where they won the game.

Cameron Smith 7.5 – Did what you expect from him, did well to overcome his illness. As always, controlled the middle of the field.

Petero Civoniceva 7.5 – The critics were saying that he was getting a bit old, but he answered them easily with a strong performance.

Nate Myles 8 – He was strong in defence, stopped a lot of the New South Wales attack, he just kept coming.

Sam Thaiday 7.5 – Quality performance from Thaiday.

Ashley Harrison 8 – He was in my top 3 players, continually working hard and cleaning up in the middle of the field. He plays that role exceptionally for us. Another player who lifted in the Origin arena.

Matt Gillett 7 – Good debut for Gillett, it was a big task for him, but had limited opportunities.

David Taylor 7 – He had a strong game without being dominant.

Ben Hannant 7.5 – One of the stronger runners for Queensland in the middle of the field.

David Shillington 7 – Queensland forwards led the way. They were under pressure by NSW's quick players around the middle but their performance was good enough to get the Maroons home.

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