Queensland too quick, too strong for fast finishing Blues
After eighteen minutes, it looked as if the Maroons were going to run away with it, chugging along at a point a minute. You could have forgiven them for thinking it was all too easy. That’s because it had been.
The Blues had only threatened their line once, through Jarryd Hayne’s contentious yet correctly ruled out try, and when they did finish their sets, a quality kick was missing.
But after 25 minutes, the Blues finally managed to put some back to back sets together and the pressure soon told, with Ben Creagh diving on Hayne’s suspicious looking infield pass.
It might have evened things up following the winger’s earlier disallowed try, but if ever there was an example of why video referees should be able to rule on forward passes, that was it. It won’t guarantee they’ll get it right, but you’d hope the obvious ones would get picked up.
In any case, Gidley missed the conversion and the Blues were unable to make any more of their dominance count late in the half. As they trotted off at half time, the Maroons’ twelve point lead still looked safe.
Gidley may have made some more noticeable errors in the second half, but he might well look back on that missed conversion ruefully. Keeping the Maroons under two converted tries in front would have helped the inexperienced Blues’ mindsets.
As it was, the second half started similarly to the first, with Inlgis barging over and Thurston slotting from out wide to put his side three converted tries, and too far ahead of the Blues, even at that early stage.
The Blues might have tightened things up with a try to Craig Wing seconds after he was introduced to the game, probably too late, but the Maroons looked comfortable defending their line, even if they were giving up territory a little easily.
You have to wonder if Bellamy’s habit of keeping game-breaking players on the bench until well into the second half of Origin matches is the right tactic. In past games we’ve seen Brett Stewart go largely unused and last night it was Wing.
HIs introduction gave NSW the spark they needed up the middle and took the pressure to make things happen off his very quiet and possibly overawed halves pairing.
Both Terry Campese and, more so, Peter Wallace, had poor games with the boot, which never allowed their side to truly build momentum. Although it’s arguable that Billy Slater’s superb reading of the game made most of their kicks look ordinary.
His defensive play last night showed just why he’s the best player in the world right now.
In the end, a late try to the Maroons flattered them on the scoreboard and didn’t reflect the effort of the fast finishing Blues.
Game two will be an interesting affair. The Blues will be heartened by how they clawed their way back into it, while the Maroons will feel they’ve still got plenty in the tank.
It’ll be a tight one.