Queensland success is Hangin’ With Mr Cooper
Queensland's Cooper Cronk makes a break. AAP Image/Paul Miller
Some might call it lucky number seven, but really it was anything but. Try as they did, the Boys in Blue were left utterly cigar-less as Cooper Cronk’s right boot had everyone saying “Darren who?”.
There was even more talk than usual in the lead up to this decider. From the great Joey Johns to Craig Fitzgibbon, the ex-stars of NSW were lining up to claim it was the Blues’ time.
Even ‘Mr Queenslander’ himself, Billy Moore had all but pulled on a NSW jersey with all his analogies of sharks and claret. But it turns out all these statements were almost as laughable as the time Mark Geyer compared eye gouging to peadophilia.
What these ex-players forgot is that whilst one off games may be won and lost on the backs of the forwards, series are ultimately decided by the halves.
It is of anything but a coincidence that the last time NSW won a series, Andrew Johns played his final game of Origin.
Since that time is has more or less been a case of musical halfbacks with (okay, big breath) Finch, Gower, Gasnier, Mullen, Kimmorley, Bird, Anasta, Wallace, Pearce, Campese, Lyon, Barrett, Soward and Carney all pulling on the sky blue 6 or 7.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Tweed, the Thurston-Lockyer stability has been at the forefront of every Queensland success, minus the time Scotty Prince got his chance due to Lockyer having a prior linguistics engagement with Gary Larsson.
But the retirement of the former Queensland skipper has not slowed the Maroon juggernaut as Cronk got redemption for his game II sins with a match winning kick under immense pressure.
There was nothing more indicative of the gulf between these two teams in class of the halves than Cronk’s sweet strike and the desperation of Pearce’s field goal attempt in the final minute. Pearce barely registered as more than a spectator this entire series and until that problem is rectified, it will be the same old sorry tale for the New South Welshman. In many aspects,
Pearce was a real punt by the selectors, as his kicking game shows the kind of creativity we’re used to seeing in Australian Idol contestants and it is really only his surname that suggests he has any kind of Origin pedigree. As NSW go back to the drawing board, it seems highly unlikely that Pearce will feature in the pinnacle of footy again.
Some credit must go to Todd Carney, as he has given his detractors a little something to chew on, packaged in a collage of questionable ink.
The peach he landed from the sideline with time winding down dispelled any rumoured anxiety issues and quite possibly saved him thousands in sports psychology bills. Then again, maybe he isn’t ready to go Shrink-less just yet.
But for all the heart of Gallen, the fire of Bird and the impossible ‘speccies’ brought to you by Josh Morris, the Blues will be left to rue a series defeat in three matches which they dominated for long periods.
They will regret their failure to convert possession into points at crucial times, and a large portion of that problem can be put down to a misfiring number 7.
The next time someone makes a crack about it being a game of two halves, the Blues must understand it may not just be a reference to the two stanzas that are separated by pep-talks and oranges.
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