I doubt there has been a game in history with that much intensity for that long a period. I certainly haven’t seen it and I’ve been watching Origin and playing for a long time.
Game Two at ANZ Stadium was another tremendous game and lived up to the hype and expectation. I take my hat off to NSW, they did a great job on Queensland.
The game was very similar to the first half of Game One in Melbourne where NSW thought they had the running of the game but only came up with four points. I was actually quite confident at halftime that Queensland would go on and win the game. It is not often in Origin that the team trailing at halftime goes on to win the game, especially not in recent times.
I think a lot of people thought Queensland were going to score at the end, that is what has happened so many times in the past. But this Blues team were very resilient, they are probably sick of the Maroons scoring and winning games at the death. They drew a line in the sand and showed some courageous defence. It was a fantastic battle and great to watch.
It does set up a massive Game Three at Suncorp Stadium. It will probably be one of the greatest games in Origin history. It certainly has a lot riding on it. Obviously NSW are trying to stop the Maroons winning their seventh series, while Queensland will be looking to send out Petero on a winning note.
It won’t take Queensland long to regroup. They lost Game Two in Sydney last year and went back up to Suncorp and won the series. They are a professional outfit and while the loss would have stung them, they know how to win a series and they’ll quickly put the loss behind them and put all their focus on winning the decider in three weeks time.
This series has been fantastic and I can’t wait for Game Three – it is certainly shaping as an absolute classic.
Looking at the NSW performance, I thought Todd Carney and Robbie Farah dismissed a lot of their critics with their performances. They both stood up and made some massive plays. A lot of people have been calling for Carney to run the ball more and I know Andrew Johns has been very vocal in that area. Carney certainly showed how good he is on his feet to set up the Brett Stewart try. It will give him plenty of confidence.
From a Queensland point of view, while NSW deserved their win, we certainly have some areas that we need to improve.
NSW certainly got a bit of a leg up with Cooper Cronk getting sent to the sin-bin, which I thought was the correct decision. NSW played smart to score points when he was off the field. They scored some great tries which made it hard for Queensland. As always, the Maroons boys gave it a fair shake and were coming hard at the end. Just a few handling errors at crucial times ultimately cost them.
Cronk was probably feeling like he had let his team down a little bit and he was outstanding when he came back on. I don’t think he had much of a choice to be honest, he did what he had to do and the referees had no choice but to sinbin him. It all happens so fast. When he came back onto the field, he made a difference, his kicking game was incredible and his tackle on Brett Stewart led to a try. He was certainly playing like he had a point to prove.
Nothing separates these teams, if Brent Tate holds on to the ball, Queensland win the game. That is how close the game and the two teams are. You have to make the most of your opportunities, it often comes down to one play. In the end, only four points could split the two sides.
NSW deserved their victory and it sets up a great decider at Suncorp Stadium. I’m really looking forward to the build-up of this one already. It could be one of the all-time Origin encounters. Bring it on!
My Player rankings:
Slater 7 – I think he was courageous just to stay out there on the field, I don’t know how bad his injury was, but you could tell he wasn’t 100% and the Blues were pretty brutal with him.
Boyd 7 – He didn’t have a lot of opportunities.
Inglis 7 – I thought Morris did a really good job on him, he wasn’t as dynamic as Game One, but still scored a try and looked dangerous. He is a freak.
Hodges 7 – He was steady without being at his usual best. It was quite a physical game and it might have taken its toll on him.
Tate 8 – I thought he was outstanding and probably our best back on the night. He made two or three real Origin plays and was unlucky not to score the match-winner at the end.
Thurston 7 – Quiet by his standards. He didn’t do a lot wrong, but we come to expect so much from him. He didn’t get into any rhythm. It was probably due to NSW’s defence.
Cronk 7 – He’ll be disappointed with his sinbinning, but he had a much better game. Great kicking and enthusiasm.
Scott 6.5 – A little bit disappointing. He made some errors and wasn’t at his best.
Smith 7 – He got through a lot of work, but I think Game Three, a lot will depend on how he plays. I think he needs to do more running and attack the line a bit more.
Civoniceva 7 – Once he gets the ball under his arm, he is one of our better props, even on those 36-year-old legs. Just keeps taking the ball forward. Bounced back well after the initial hit-up.
Myles 7 – He was very good, he likes the aggressive style of play and stood up to the NSW forwards.
Taylor 6 – Dave was a bit off, had a few handling errors. You won’t expect to see that happen to him again. He has had his critics, but he has matured into a great footballer and I’m expecting big things from him in Game Three.
Harrison 6.5 – He did some good things, just missed one tackle and that is all it takes. Normally he would make that tackle on Carney.
Gillett 6 – Not many opportunities, it is tough for a young player coming in, he’ll be glad to get back and play a game at home.
Parker 6.5 – He was going okay up until the gash in his leg that looked pretty bad. I think Queensland really missed him towards the end of the game.
Hannant 7 – He had some good go-forward, but a couple of uncharacteristic errors.
Shillington 6.5 – Solid through the middle, but not a massive impact on the game.