State of Origin 2013: Under hail of penalties, Queensland best with backs to the wall

Wayne Heming Columnist

By Wayne Heming,

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    Queensland fans rejoicing an eighth straight State of Origin series can thank messrs Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins for the amazing defensive resolve that clinched the Maroons a nerve-wracking 12-10 deciding victory in hostile territory at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.

    There were many defining moments in the 80 minutes that these two great teams went toe-to-toe rather than the usual blow-for-blow of past crunch matches.

    The penalty blows that rained down on them taking the sting out of their excellent early start fired up Queensland more than the taunts of the rabid 83,000 Blue Army who constantly applied the blow torch to the two referees.

    If we’ve learned anything about Queensland and Origin since that first bloody night at Lang Park in 1980, it’s that they are at their very best when they have their backs to the wall and even moreso when they look down and out.

    As the penalty count mounted against them — I think it was 7-1 or 7-2 at one stage before ending up 8-4 — you could see their famed scrambling defensive resolve kicking in and getting stronger with each blow of the whistle.

    How many times did Queensland look out on their feet?

    And how many time did players find that indefinable something they so often talk about inside that deep Maroon jumper?

    That’s what Queensland teams do whether you believe all the talk of them being more passionate than the Blues or whatever.

    In the end, they clung on continue this amazing streak — but only just.

    Let’s not forget last year it took the best field goal in Origin history by halfback Cooper Cronk to secure series number 7 by a solitary point.

    Last night, the margin again was skinny, just two points and NSW took the battle field without arguably its two most influential stars, Jarryd Hayne and skipper Paul Gallen, forced to miss the biggest Origin game in years through injury.

    They may still not have won had one or both of them played.

    But any fair minded observer would have to concede they could have made the difference.

    There were plenty of times during the game that NSW were all over Queensland with their speed men.

    But they lacked the experience or the composure of many of their Queensland rivals who were able to draw on the intense experience of having won both the 2006 and 2008 deciders.

    Last night was Origin’s 17th series decider. Queensland has now won 11 times (two draws) which says something about their resolve when everything is on the line.

    Mitchell Pearce gave it everything, but again along with his Roosters teammate James Maloney, didn’t cut it against the world class Cooper Cronk-Johnathan Thurston combination.

    The one thing Queensland can’t stop though is their players getting older.

    Man-of-the-match Brent Tate, lock Corey Parker, centre Justin Hodges are all 31 while skipper Cameron Smith and chief player maker Johnathan Thurston are both 30.

    The task facing coach Mal Meninga – yet to lose an Origin series since taking over the job in 2006 and odds-on to continue in the role – is to have quality players ready to fill the voids when inevitably those champions call it quits.

    The Queensland Rugby League run emerging Origin camps under super coach Wayne Bennett and have programs around the state to identify talent which Meninga supervises.

    Meninga was blessed when champion Darren Lockyer pulled the pin in 2011. Storm star Cooper Cronk was ready to step into the halfback role after several games on the bench, freeing up Thurston to move into Lockyer’s key No.6 maroon jumper.

    It meant Queensland could make the transition to life after Lockyer with minimal distruption and continue their dominance.

    Queensland has two home games at Suncorp Stadium next year and have already been installed favourites by bookmakers to make it nine in a row, setting up a shot at a “decade of domination” in 2015.

    It wasn’t surprising after the game to see the predictable tweets and comments like “Origin is dead.”

    Try telling that to Blues’ coach Laurie Daley.

    You can bet he started plannining ways to deny Queensland nine in a row next year today.

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • July 18th 2013 @ 12:37pm
      The Koomz said | July 18th 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

      Can’t argue, they’re are champion team.

    • July 18th 2013 @ 12:38pm
      Dillan said | July 18th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

      Right on the spot Wayne…One of the best defensive efforts in origin history…

      • July 18th 2013 @ 1:26pm
        Wayne Heming said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

        It was up their Dillan, not quite as good as the famous Sydney victory when they lost half their team to injury. Queensland sides have always had attacking brilliance but the cornerstone of so many great wins has been their last ditch defence and a player always turning up for his mate. It’s why they won the unwinnable 1995 series under Fatty Vautin’s Nevilles against a NSW side stacked with Test players. From the Normie Carrs, Wally Fullerton Smiths, Bryan Nieblings, Gary Larsons, Trevor Gillmeisters, Billy Moores Tonie Carrolls to the Dallas Johnsons, Ashley Harrisons and Corey Parkers, Queensland have built their Origin success and legend on their magnificent scrambling defence. They did it again last night.

        • July 18th 2013 @ 1:49pm
          BennO said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          Well said. You often hear guys like that described as “unfashionable” but those fellas you just listed are the true heroes of the past 20+ years.

          Legends. The lot of em.

    • July 18th 2013 @ 1:16pm
      Will Sinclair said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

      Yep – Queensland won because of two things:

      1) Incredible last ditch defence; and

      2) The class of their playmakers, who were able to take the opportunities presented to them.

      It seemed as though NSW were on the verge of breaking clear for about 60 minutes, but there was always another Maroon jumper in the way. And then it happened – one opportunity, Cronk to Hodges, try.

      Class.

    • July 18th 2013 @ 1:18pm
      Will Sinclair said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

      Have to say though, Wayne, you let yourself down a bit with the griping about the referees.

      They’re not there to hand out an equal number of penalties to both teams – like a parent handing out lollies to kids at a party, everyone needs to get the same.

      They’re there to police the rules, and QLD were pushing the boundaries all night.

      • July 18th 2013 @ 1:34pm
        Wayne Heming said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

        Very true Will it’s their job to make them even or worry about the count but there was a fair bit of pressure applied to both referees prior to the game from the NSW camp highlighting their case that they don’t win too many penalty counts and that they were playing at home. I never said any of the penalties were wrong, although I think a few were, and I never said in most case they were not warranted. The point I was making was that the barrage blown against them early in the game lifted their defensive resolve a notch and set a standard for the rest of the game.

      • July 18th 2013 @ 1:53pm
        A Mans Not A Camel said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

        No offense intended Will, but I think if you took off the blue coloured lenses you’re wearing, you might see it a different way. Queensland was only awarded the blatently obvious penalties, where-as NSW got a few what I would consider 50/50. For example, the high tackle that was not a high tackle, just great acting, as the arm around his upper chest had zero contact with the NSW players head that miraculously got thrown back in the tackle. Perhaps if the QLD players had taken it upon themselves to throw their heads back in tackles, they may have gotten one or two as well. At the stoppages, at least one penalty went NSW way for impeding play of the ball, yet a few times QLD were held longer in the tackle after the ref called it, yet no penalty awarded.

        That said, it was expected. Same thing I think happened to the Blues in QLD. One day, the NRL might get some refs that ignore crowd pressure and pay penalties with some sort of evenness regardless of who’s home ground the games played on – but I doubt it, it’s been going on for so many years now I think the fans and players all expect to see it occur now.

        • July 18th 2013 @ 2:32pm
          Will Sinclair said | July 18th 2013 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

          I’m not wearing blue coloured lenses – I am not from New South Wales.

          I am from Switzerland, where I attended the College of Neutrality for several years, and attained a Graduate Diploma in Impartiality (with a Major in Rugby League Studies).

        • July 18th 2013 @ 9:30pm
          jett michaels said | July 18th 2013 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

          Mate i love the handle-A Mans Not A Camel-LoL! It sounds like something you would say to the missus during an argument !

      • Roar Guru

        July 18th 2013 @ 2:18pm
        AdamS said | July 18th 2013 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

        The penalty to Bird (?) when he kept pushing for the line after being called held was ridiculous.
        But ultimately, if we want to see fairly reffed matches, League needs to get rid of all the subtle cheating they have let creep into the game. A season of clampdowns on the tackler scraping an extra few meters as he plays the ball, half the tackles last night included an arm around a players neck and get rid of penalties for stripping the ball. NSW milked that and dropped it half the time. Just give it back to the player and play on, it hasn’t disrupted anything and isn’t worth a penalty.

        • July 18th 2013 @ 3:01pm
          A Mans Not A Camel said | July 18th 2013 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

          Agreed, I found it very, very frustrating watching both teams scramble for extra metres as they got up to play the ball, and for Bird to milk a penalty over it – wow. I hope you’re right on there, and that they look to that as the next rule to enforce.

        • July 21st 2013 @ 7:24pm
          Geronimo said | July 21st 2013 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

          Yes and then Hayne ignored the obstruction that knocked over Thursdton for the NSW try . It least he should have looked at it. Bizarre

    • July 18th 2013 @ 1:23pm
      Johnno said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

      Gone for NSW I predict

      Gallen
      Bird
      Luke Lewis
      Glen Stewart
      Watmough only on bench spot can he be considered
      Mitch Pearce

      All these players should be stamped never to play for Blues again. We need change, we keep picking those same players, we will keep losing. Need new players.

      • July 18th 2013 @ 2:03pm
        Raugeee said | July 18th 2013 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

        Yay, someone else who doesn’t rate Waymough

        • July 18th 2013 @ 2:20pm
          Varun said | July 18th 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

          Watmough was almost best player of both teams last night. Definitely the best 1 or 2 for NSW. To say he should never get selected again goes to show the reason why you haven’t won for so long, and probably won’t for at least 2 more years.

          • July 18th 2013 @ 4:46pm
            Sleemo said | July 18th 2013 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

            Watmough dropped? He was the best forward on the field last night.

            Glenn Stewart didn’t even play this year so he can’t be dropped. He definitely wouldn’t be out of place in the jumper next year.

            Gallen, Bird and Lewis dropped – right. Okay. Shows how much you know.

            Out of the players you mentioned only Pearce deserves the axe and that’s obvious.

      • July 18th 2013 @ 4:17pm
        Mals said | July 18th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        Earth to Johnno – Glenn Stewart did not play a single minute of this SOO series. Give yourself an uppercut!! Watmough was NSW best forward last night.

    • July 18th 2013 @ 1:42pm
      Glenn Innis said | July 18th 2013 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

      To be fair I thought NSW earned that 6 – 2 halftime penalty count, for the last twenty five minutes of that first half they had QLD stretched, were playing the ball more quickly and forcing QLD to concede penalties to slow down the roll they were on.

      Fortunately for us QLD supporters NSW are stuck with the same problem they have had since Andrew Johns retired,they just can’t convert pressure into points consitently. they just don’t have enough points in them to come out on top over a three game series.

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