Elinya Chenery reviews the 2022 Origin decider…
QLD Maroons 22
Tries: Valentine Holmes (12), Kurt Capewell (39), Kalyn Ponga (60), Ben Hunt (78)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 3 (14, 62, 78)
NSW Blues 12
Tries: Jarome Luai (18), Jacob Saifiti (31)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 2 (19, 32)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Following a brutal opening three minutes in which HIAs saw NSW’s Cameron Murray and QLD’s Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins leave the field, play continued set for set until a Maroons’ try was denied by The Bunker due to a knock on in the eighth minute.
The Queensland side would make no mistake of their second attempt only minutes later: a Tom Dearden pass saw Origin veteran Valentine Holmes run over for the opening points of the game, before Holmes converted his own try to give QLD a 6-0 lead.
Classic Origin tension boiled over for three individual scuffles between the sides, before a well-weighted Nathan Cleary kick to halves partner Jarome Luai saw the Panthers’ combination secure the Blues’ first try with a skilful put down from the five eighth.
Another try went begging for the Maroons’ side with a forward pass ruled, followed by a penalty, a Cleary quick tap and two Queensland goal-line drop outs, which saw NSW take the lead with a crash over try under the posts from debutant Jacob Saifiti.
Amidst two set restarts and and massive attacking pressure, a Harry Grant kick put the ball on a platter for Kurt Capewell to plant it down just before half-time. Holmes uncharacteristically missed the sideline conversion, leaving the score at 12-10 to NSW going into the break.
Chaos is the only word to describe the opening 90 seconds of the second half. A miraculous Kalyn Ponga line break ended with QLD captain Daly Cherry-Evans claiming a try, which was completely overshadowed by the first full-on, all-in “biff” in State of Origin since punching was banned nearly a decade ago.
The Bunker was called in to review the action, in which it was revealed that Dane Gagai took issue with Matt Burton’s contact on Ponga, and as put by Senior Review Official Grant Atkins: “Gagai went out of his way to push Matt Burton”. This then escalated to full blown punches between the pair, sparking an all-in melee. Ashley Klein then gave both Burton and Gagai their marching orders and it was a 12 on 12 match for the next 10 minutes.
Back to 13-a-side, a late offload from Stephen Crichton saw Angus Crichton caught in-goal, and the line drop out, combined with a set restart, gave Ponga the space he needed to produce some individual magic and score his first Origin try.
Another Bunker intervention saw Grant denied a possible game-winning try, but Queensland – full of energy from repeat attacking sets – were not about to let the Blues pull off a miracle win. Despite NSW throwing everything they had left in them at the Maroons within the final five minutes, it would be big moment player Ben Hunt that stood up and sealed the victory for QLD.
Hoping for a miracle, Cleary attempted a classic chip-and-chase, only for Hunt to read the play like he wrote it himself and take an incredible intercept. Running the remaining length of the field, Hunt was able to outstrip desperate NSW chasers to secure the game-winning try. A successful sideline conversion by Holmes saw the final score stand at 22-12, with Queensland taking the series in Billy Slater’s inaugural year as coach.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Kalyn Ponga (Maroons), 2 pts – Patrick Carrigan (Maroons), 1 pt – Ben Hunt (Maroons)
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