Tension. That one word ultimately encapsulates the essence of the second game of the State of Origin series. From the minute the first game was over Laurie Daley set the pace by calling out the Queensland teams’ unsavoury tactics and made the intention clear going into the next game; Queensland must pay. Throughout the entire lead up the biggest focus around the media-sphere was naming and shaming the worst offenders of ‘grubby’ play in an altercation which made certain players from the two teams look like strong favourites to star in a sequel of ‘Mean Girls’. The game itself was a tumultuous mess which was lucky not to end with half the players sitting in the sin bin but, damn, it was incredible.
Outrage was rife as the smoked cleared but it wasn’t because James Tamou and Beau Scott were battling for the title of ‘king of the playground’. The disrespect shown during a minute’s silence created an uproar. I believe that the fault is with the organisers. Pre-game formalities are an unnecessary annoyance to the average viewer. Not only does it interfere with the team’s preparations and puts them in an uncomfortable spotlight but it often delays the kick off. The national anthem is a joke in its own right however the tribute on Wednesday night was doomed from the start. The expectation that an entire stadium of 90,000+ fans could remain completely silent for a minute is naive at the best of times. Throw alcohol and the most passion evoking sporting event in the nation into the ring and you have a ticking time-bomb of disrespect.
There was no lack of injuries in what was the most physical exhibition at Origin level that has been seen in a while; a reminder of why State of Origin is considered the ultimate platform. Billy Slater decided to undergo shoulder surgery and will miss the next State of Origin match and the rest of the season. Paul Gallen busted rib cartilage and is apparently in a fair amount of pain however there is no word yet on how much time he will spend on the sideline. Robbie Farah took a hit late in the game but stresses that he is fine however there is a huge question mark over his head for Friday’s clash against the Sea Eagles. Thurston took a beating and is questionable for his game. Matt Scott has been struggling with an infected knee and is questionable. Nate Myles picked up a foot injury and is unsure of the severity yet. Ryan Hoffman had to go for his third concussion test in as many games and will have to prove his fitness.
The biff was almost back! Lower David Klemmer’s fist about half a metre and we’re on (Klemmer would’ve been off). Plenty of scuffle throughout the night. The Blues certainly achieved their goal to prove they are a bigger team of scumbags.
As you would expect there were a few dodgy refereeing calls which were unfortunately at a pivotal moment in the game. I’m not the kind of guy to support conspiracy theories but… does the NRL hate the Cowboys? In their defence the Michael Morgan strip call was a 50/50 call and could’ve gone either way. Same with the Mitchell Pearce try. At least you could argue that the two cancel each other out.
Corey Parker – Defined the word workhorse with 126 metres and 38 tackles. He also showed off his seemless ball handling skills as an instrumental part of QLD’s offence efforts.
Aaron Woods – The lazy man himself ran the most metres of any player on the field (157), had 27 tackles and scored a try with a dummy that would’ve made Benji Marshall weep.
Robbie Farah – Played with a hurt shoulder and did a hell of a job. His defence was tight and he controlled the field well. Perhaps one of the most instrumental plays in the game was his perfectly placed kick which caused Will Chambers to knock the ball out of bound giving the Blues a fresh set right on QLD’s line. This was the turning point that put the Maroons on the back foot.
Michael Jennings – Had an outstanding first half running the football in a performance that he has only shown glimpses of this year.
Jonathan Thurston – While the majority seem to believe King Thurston can do no wrong there are some who saw the true faults of his game. I will concede that he did have a decent performance and controlled the field well however there were crucial mistakes and he lacked the spark that he often provides at club level. He let in Josh Morris’ try in defence. Did about half the number of tackles that Daly Cherry-Evans did and therefore should have been fresh in attack. Yes, he did tackle Josh Dugan in goal to give QLD a drop out however he did it with the help of two other men and a perfectly placed kick from Smith. He also had 3 errors; the most in the game. It was not a performance worthy of touting.
Michael Morgan – What was the point of having him in the team?
Josh Jackson – See above for details.
The Queensland forward pack except for Parker and McGuire – You could leave a tub of margarine in the sun all day and it still wouldn’t be as soft as that pack was.
Trent Hodkinson – His performance was admittedly better than in the first game but still nothing to call home about. I stand by saying he shouldn’t be in the team. He made a lot of mistakes and didn’t really spark much in attack. At least he acted like he belonged there this time.
Where do we go from here?
I will say it again and I don’t think I will ever stop saying it – GET RID OF HODKINSON.
Queensland showed what can happen when you have the old fellas getting a bit slow and when the Storm threesome are split up. Bring Dylan Napa in at the very least. Queensland need power up front to match NSW’s pack.
It is safe to assume that Greg Inglis will move to fullback to replace Slater with Dane Gagai slotting into either centre or wing.
Tension is sure to be high in the decider. Both sides have a lot to prove. Who will take out the series?