Lachy MacCorquodale reviews the first Origin clash for the 2020 series. Here’s how the game went.
|15th||Try Damien Cook (New South Wales)||New South Wales 4-0|
|16th||Goal Nathan Cleary (New South Wales)||New South Wales 6-0|
|20th||Try Josh Addo-Carr (New South Wales)||New South Wales 10-0|
|49th||Try AJ Brimson (Queensland)||New South Wales 10-4|
|51st||Goal Daly Cherry-Evans (Queensland)||New South Wales 10-6|
|53rd||Try Xavier Coates (Queensland)||Scores tied 10-10|
|55th||Goal Daly Cherry-Evans (Queensland)||Queensland 12-10|
|65th||Try Cameron Munster (Queensland)||Queensland 16-10|
|66th||Goal Daly Cherry-Evans (Queensland)||Queensland 18-10|
|75th||Try Josh Addo-Carr (New South Wales)||Queensland 18-14|
A dropped ball from Damien Cook off the kick-off was not the start the Blues were after. It was expansive early, with Josh Addo-Carr going oh-so close to scoring; in the very next set the Queenslanders earned themselves a set restart after some great play on the right edge. It was evident that many of the players hadn’t played for a few weeks after a sloppy start, but the skills and reflexes started to sharpen up as the game went on. The Queenslanders were gifted an early opportunity to get on the scoreboard but Daly Cherry-Evans sprayed the conversion wide. New South Wales were able to hold their own after multiple attacking sets from Queensland and the Blues were rewarded for their persistence.
The Blues marched down the field with the next set and Damien Cook was able to regather his grubber kick and spin his way into the in-goal to score the opener. It didn’t take long for the Blues to strike again with a standard shift to the right through the hands, which gave Addo-Carr the space to race over and score in the corner, extending the Blues’ lead. New South Wales entered their groove after their two opening tries and looked the more likely side to score throughout the remainder of the half. Queensland needed to improve their fluency and creativity in attack if they were any chance of troubling the scorers.
Both sides went set-for-set to open the second term and it was the Queenslanders who, most importantly, struck first. Out of nowhere, Kurt Capewell found some room on the right edge: he waited for AJ Brimson to reach him before he put a chip kick into the in-goal for Brimson to charge onto for their opening try. Queensland continued their expansive play and were rewarded instantly after Dane Gagai shrugged a tackle from Dally M Medalist Jack Wighton. Gagai broke into open play and drew James Tedesco in before passing the ball to winger Xavier Coates; Cherry-Evans’ conversion put the Maroons in front.
The Maroon ambush continued after a loose Daniel Tupou offload was pounced on by Cameron Munster, who went to distance to put the Queenslanders up by eight, courtesy of Cherry-Evans’ conversion. The Blues finally lifted the tempo throughout the last 15 minutes of play and a knock-on from Addo-Carr nearly got the Blues within a try after some individual brilliance from the winger. The defending champions would have to wait until the 75th minute before they came within a try of the Maroons, after a nice shift play out to the right, which found Addo-Carr for his second try of the night after a trademark dive in the corner. But it wasn’t enough as the Maroons were able to hold on after a brilliant second half, giving them the series lead heading to Sydney for game two.
The Queenslanders looked out of it at half-time, so whatever Wayne Bennett told his players at the break seemed to work. The opening try for the Maroons was the turning point of the game and was the first real spot of weakness that the Blues line showed, giving the Queenslanders hope for the remainder of the match. It was an unlikely suitor who made the line break – Kurt Capewell: he then put a beautiful chip kick for the sprinting AJ Brimson to score a try in his State of Origin debut.
This try turned the tide for the Queenslanders, who scored another just four minutes later. They extended their lead beyond a converted try in the 65th minute, which proved to be too large for the Blues to chase down. This surprise result is no shock when compared to the history of the Maroons, who have continuously upset the Blues throughout the 40 years of the series. Many thought the Blues would cruise to a series win, but as always the Queenslanders have proved the doubters wrong and in the process set up an absolute pearler of a match next week at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
New South Wales: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Clinton Gutherson 4. Jack Wighton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Luke Keary 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Junior Paulo 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Cody Walker 15. Payne Haas 16. Cameron Murray 17. Angus Crichton.
Queensland: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Xavier Coates 18. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Phillip Sami 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Jake Friend 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Coen Hess 13. Tino Faasuamaleaui. Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Jai Arrow 17. Jaydn Su’A.