BROWNIE: Blues dominant everywhere except scoreboard
Paul Gallen is tackled by Queensland player Jonathon Thurston. AAP Image/Julian Smith
That was an exciting match last night, with the Blues dominating most aspects of the game, but the Maroons – with luck very much on their side – coming out on top at the end.
I was very impressed with the way NSW played. Their forwards were young and quick, and very athletic.
They caused the big Queensland pack a lot of trouble around the rucks.
In fact, NSW won the battle for field position, easily made more line breaks than the Maroons, and were far quicker with their play the balls.
They were the better side in everything except scoring more points. Which is where it matters, of course.
For the first 20-25 minutes, the Blues were all over Queensland.
I thought that try-saving tackle by Cameron Smith and Billy Slater was a huge turning point in the first half, as was the sinbinning of Michael Jennings – which was another stroke of misfortune for NSW given how rarely that sort of thing happens in Origin football.
As Gus and co pointed out in the commentary, there is typically one set of rules for NRL club games and another for Origin. So it was strange that Jennings was sin-binned for that.
But he did run in and throw a punch, so I guess he has to cop the punishment.
But that was indicative of how the night went in general. NSW definitely got the stiff calls. And that obviously extends to the Inglis try.
I can’t believe that it was awarded, and I was interested to read that Bill Harrigan has apparently told Ricky Stuart that the video referee made a mistake.
Likewise, in my view, Greg Bird did nothing wrong with that tackle that he was penalised for at a crucial point of the second half.
So overall, NSW didn’t get the lucky calls, but they still dominated the game.
Greg Bird was outstanding; Robbie Farrah had his best ever Origin game; as did Mitchell Pearce; Paul Gallen played for the full 80 minutes again and was remarkable, again; and it was really good to see Jarryd Hayne play a game where he looked to carry the ball rather than thinking about passing.
As for the Maroons, Brent Tate was by far their best player.
What an amazing player he is. When you think about how much football he’s missed over the years, with knee reconstructions and neck injuries, and other problems. He is just a serious competitor and he came up with some very good catches of the high ball under pressure.
But what impressed me most was his ability to come up with some great dummy half runs when the Queensland forwards were most under pressure.
They looked more and more tired as the game went on, and it was really their ability to save the try that kept them in it. They should thank Cameron Smith for that.
He has this innate ability to pop up at the right time and rescue the team. While he was nullified somewhat in attack, his control of the rucks and calmness under pressure was superb.
Queensland had limited opportunities but executed two very nice tries.
With a bit of luck, it could have all gone the other way. But the Gods were on Queensland’s side last night and they snuck away with the win.
Ricky and the boys will take a huge amount of confidence away from that performance. And I think he’ll stick solid with the same squad for Game Two.
They will only get better in their combinations.
Former Dragons coach and player Nathan Brown writes an exclusive weekly column for The Roar. Brown, who played 172 games for the Dragons and coached them for a further 142 games, is currently the head coach at the Huddersfield Giants in the UK Super League.
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