Five Things Learnt from 2014 State of Origin I

1. Jarryd Hayne is an Origin game breaker

It has long been known but in a game that was close across the park, it was the NSW number one that made the Cauldron his own.

It was an incredible game from Hayne, even by his 2009 standards. Joey Johns said that in order for NSW to win, Hayne had to have a man of the match performance and the fullback didn’t disappoint. He set up NSW first try, and scored the second, making a total of 172m, two line breaks and thirty two possessions.

Long story and glorious story short, he was in everything.

2. Even the best referees in the game are struggling

A Queensland supporter commented that it was lucky they didn’t win the game in the dying moments after Shayne Hayne inexplicably said Trent Hodkinson had knocked on. There was conjecture whether the ball was played at by the Blues’ Halfback, but the fact that the ball travelled well backwards made the call a disaster.

It wasn’t the only poor call of the night, with Tate knocking on in the lead up to the first try, while Hayne gained approval from the referees for what they saw as a legitimate attempt at trying to catch the ball.

They also missed a shove on Slater in that same run of play that helped NSW maintain the ball and ultimately extend their lead to eight.

The NRL officials continue to make errors that should just not be made.

3. The biff is on the way out

A few times through game one it looked like the fists would fly, firstly when Tate was dumped unceremoniously by Josh Reynolds in a tackle that landed the Blues and Bulldogs five eight on report, and again when Paul Gallen stood toe to toe with Corey Parker and Aiden Guerra.

On both occasions the players showed they were willing to shove each other and grab at jerseys to look threatening.  No one however was willing to risk the sin bin and potentially cost their team the game in a close affair.

4. Queensland’s dominant era appears to be ending

The Maroons were unlucky to lose the meticulous Cooper Cronk inside the first ten minutes, but with players of their caliber and a ready replacement in Daly Cherry Evans it should have been something they recovered from quickly.

Instead, their performance lacked potency in attack and uncharacteristic mistakes were made in front of a disbelieving home crowd.

The positive for the Queensland side is the fact that despite players such as Jonathon Thurston having an off night, they still only lost by four.

Maybe hope is not gone but….

5. NSW are on the cusp of a series win

With two home games Queensland looked likely to win a ninth straight series, however with the slip up at their first home fixture the series has been blown wide open. With the second game heading to Sydney, the Blues look set to break the Maroon streak in front of what will be a boisterous NSW crowd.

The pressure is well and truly on the cane toads now, who have only won once at ANZ Stadium out of their last four trips to the venue.

Admittedly, that was last year, when the series was on the line. We find ourselves in the same scenario now.

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