Queensland inspired to show their true colours
After a racial row marred the lead-up, it seemed only apt that Queensland showed their true colours in a 34-6 Origin II victory over NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
While NSW backrower Luke O’Donnell saw red, the evidence supporting Queensland as the greatest team in Origin’s 30 years was there in black and white.
When the dust settled on a spiteful clash, Queensland had sealed a record fifth straight Origin series.
And they promptly rated the greatest Maroons team by a man who should know – Queensland coach Mal Meninga.
“I think it’s been a tough week for rugby league in general and a lot of things have happened and tomorrow should be about what a great team this is,” said Meninga, who played the first of his 32 Origins in the 1980 original.
“(They are) remarkable players but the thing about the Maroons is they are a fantastic team and play for each other and just want to do it for each other so it’s a pleasure being a coach.
“Our depth is great and we’ve got great leaders who play in key positions for us…so it all adds up to a pretty special team.”
Life isn’t as peachy for his “shocked” counterpart Craig Bellamy, who admitted NSW had “every right” to sack him following yet another loss.
Especially after Meninga later laughed off NSW pivot Trent Barrett’s claim that the tide would eventually turn.
“The domination they’ve got has got to stop eventually,” Barrett said.
The Maroons faithful in the 52,452-strong crowd went into party mode as Queensland continued their golden run – a 10-4 win-loss record since their winning streak began in 2006.
Only Queensland’s 13-3 record from 1922-26 is better.
The six tries to one loss came on a dark night for NSW, especially O’Donnell.
Days after disgraced ex-NSW assistant Andrew Johns’ now infamous racial slurs rocked the countdown to Origin II, the question remained: “How would the Maroons’ indigenous stars respond?”
The fired-up Suncorp Stadium crowd didn’t have to wait long for the answer.
In the third minute a pumped Greg Inglis – the focus of Johns’ rant that cost him his NSW coaching gig – had dragged two defenders over to score.
By the 12th, Israel Folau – another reportedly in Johns’ sights on last week’s Blues bonding night – had crossed to make it 10-0.
Asked how the Johns saga had affected him, Inglis told Channel Nine: “It showed in my game tonight. I was pretty upset about it.”
Bellamy said: “Nobody wanted to happen, what happened, and nobody wanted it to keep going.
“I would love to be able to use that as an excuse, but I don’t think it is.”
It was going to take something special to take the focus away from the Johns racial row – but it became a subplot after O’Donnell’s brain explosion.
The Cowboys enforcer was considered lucky not to be sent off in the 26th minute when the match erupted following his ugly spear tackle on Maroons winger Darius Boyd.
After O’Donnell’s shocking tackle sparked an all-in, the fired-up North Queensland forward could be seen headbutting David Taylor as the Queenslander was restrained by NSW’s Joel Monaghan.
O’Donnell was inexplicably cleared of the headbutt but faces three to four weeks on the sidelines after being charged with a grade two dangerous throw.
Blues enforcer Paul Gallen will be available for Cronulla this week after pleading guilty to a grade one careless tackle charge for his 23rd minute hit on Nate Myles.
It was the first time Queensland had wrapped up a series at Suncorp Stadium since 1991 – the legendary Wally Lewis’ farewell game.
The clash also provided the Maroons faithful the victory they were deprived of last year when NSW averted a whitewash with yet another fiery display.
The 28-point victory narrowly missed equalling the record 30-point winning margin Queensland had racked up three times in the 30-year Origin history – in 1989 (36-6), 2003 (36-6), 2008 (30-0, all at Suncorp Stadium.
After Queensland led 16-0 at halftime it was more of the same in the second stanza – with more Maroons points, and more biffing.
The niggling act between Inglis and NSW centre Beau Scott boiled over in the 57th minute when the pair went toe to toe.
Queensland extended their advantage to 34-0 through Tonga (44th), Folau (48th) and Cooper Cronk (62nd) before NSW finally got on the board through prop Brett White (79th).© AAP 2013