Brave Blues make their own luck as rare penalty try swings momentum
Fortune has always favoured the brave.
For one of those moments where 82,223 people simultaneously hold their breath, while at the same time arguing 'til they've none left, the Bunker favoured the Blues.
With NSW trailing 10-6, James Maloney put it on the boot. Ben Hunt put hands on Boyd Cordner as he chased it through. And lead referee Gerard Sutton put it on Steve Chiddy in the NRL Bunker.
With Billy Slater elsewhere in the Maroons in-goal and not a Queenslander within cooee of the Blues skipper, the bouncing ball loomed as the only impediment to a critical 30th-minute try.
That and the hands of Hunt, the very same that spilled the Steeden in 2015, spawning a Cowboys premiership and a lifetime of memes to follow him wherever he goes.
By the law, the video referees deemed that Cordner would have scored were it not for Hunt's contact – which stacks up as the "unfair play" referred to in section 6 of the rulebook.
Rugby league's oldest decree – you can't trust that same bouncing ball – by the Bunker's definition, did not hold enough sway to swing the decision Queensland's way.
NRL officials at the ground confirmed that it was either a penalty try or a sin-binning for Hunt's professional foul – one or the other, but not both.
James Roberts pulled the textbook out just 40 minutes later, inexplicably blocking Gavin Cooper off the ball when Tom Trbojevic had Queensland's kick covered.
With Roberts in the bin, fortune turned on the foolish. Already reduced to 12 men, NSW lost their captain five minutes later, still clinging to an 18-14 lead.
Cordner bent his back and smacked himself into next week trying to halt Roosters teammate Dylan Napa.
Remonstrating all the while, he won't remember the conversation as he was escorted from the field.
No HIA test necessary to detect concussion when it's felt by all and sundry watching it.
Up stepped Trbojevic, crunching a Queensland ball-carrier in the meantime. In came 20-year-old halfback Nathan Cleary, quiet as a mute church mouse until now.
Out he went in quick time when a Maroons shift sent Valentine Holmes away down the right-hand touchline.
Down Holmes went soon enough. A grass-cutting tackle just one rung below Scott Sattler's cover defence heroics in the 2003 grand final – speaking volumes about the kid's temperament.
Shadowing the same balls to the wall theatrics of Panthers teammate and senior scrum base mate James Maloney.
The 32-year-old who produced a speculator pass in his own 20, deserving only the four-letter words that met the two intercept passes he threw in Origin I.
A fortuitous offside penalty against the Maroons a moment later, and one moment after that Maloney is bulleting the same pass to Josh Addo-Carr once more, who steps his way over for a try.
With the necessary fortune, a brave Blue world is the result.
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