The Queensland champions rise one more time to humiliate the Blues

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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Popular article! 5,540 reads

    Even the greatest of champions must fall.

    A few smart ones know when it is time to walk away. However, many end their career being counted out on the canvas, having gone one fight – or season – too many.

    More State of Origin 2
    » Match report: Maroons steal Game 2 win to force a decider
    » Watch all the Origin 2 highlights
    » Why the State of Origin man of the match process is broken
    » WATCH: Andrew Johns blasts the Blues’ woeful second half

    At half time in last night’s match it looked like the great Queensland side was on the ropes and staggering, as wave after blue wave of remorseless New South Welshmen constantly bent the Maroon line and had them desperately scrambling, often in vain.

    The half time statistics told an inevitable tale of NSW triumph. The Sky Blues had made 23 more hit ups (that’s almost five extra sets), 100 more metres, missed ten fewer tackles, made 38 fewer tackles (that’s over seven sets), made three more line breaks and scored two more tries.

    Even after Queensland dominated possession in the last ten minutes of the first half, New South Wales had still held the ball for three more minutes than the Maroons in the first half.

    NSW were ten points in front. Their pack was playing devastating football.

    For the champion Queensland core of Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston surely this was a series too far. Surely they were about to fall.

    They must have been wishing that they’d hung up the boots in 2016 rather than pushing on for one more series of $30,000 paydays only to go out vanquished, their aura removed, their legacy eroded.

    There was no Matt Scott, no Corey Parker and no Greg Inglis. The pack was being pushed around.

    Tim Glasby – the highly criticised bolter selection – had been badly shown up. Missing two tackles that directly resulted in NSW tries. He may have been able to play great Bellamy Ball when dressed in purple, but dressed in Maroon he was being exposed.

    James Maloney NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    From the NSW perspective we could now clearly see the absolute folly in selecting Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah series after series with their domination of the side and one dimensional play. With those old stalwarts gone the Blues were rejuvenated, electric and dangerous. Right?

    Josh Jackson once more showed us just what a brilliant player he is. His defence and assertive runs were a stand out. David Klemmer ran the ball like a wild man for huge metres. James Tedesco’s runs from the back were always dangerous.

    Jake Trbojevic showed he will be a fixture in this side for years to come and – though he’s at the opposite end of his career – Brett Morris positional play and defence was absolutely top class. James Maloney’s run to set up Morris’ try was superb.

    It was followed quickly afterwards by a Tedesco break, from a Trbojevic pass that ended in a Mitchell Pearce try. After 28 minutes it was 16-6 and Queensland looked gone.

    Game 3 would be a dead rubber. Smith, Cronk, Slater and Thurston would bow out of the Origin arena badly beaten.

    Like Muhammad Ali must have thought when he realised that he’d pressed his luck one fight too far when he got in the ring with Larry Holmes in 1980, the Queensland champions must have been wishing that they’d hung up their boot in 2016 and gone out winners.

    However, New South Wales never scored another point after the 28th minute and Queensland slowly started dragging themselves back into the game.

    There was no questioning the effort the Queensland big four were putting in but the resurgence was led by Josh McGuire, Will Chambers (who was outstanding until getting KO’d in the 70th minute), Dane Gagai, and Dylan Napa.

    As determined as Queensland were not to lose, New South Wales seemed equally determined not to win. Their rampaging drive to tear the Maroons apart began subsiding after the first ten minutes of the second half. They almost seemed content to sit on their lead.

    Maloney and Pearce pretty much disappeared. Andrew Fifita, such a rampaging beast in SOO1, was easily contained by the Maroons.

    There seemed to be no plan. 24-year-old Boyd Cordner seemed unable to step up as leader, take control and get his side to properly reengage. For all the superb cattle in sky blue jerseys there is no superb leadership. There probably hasn’t really been any since Andrew Johns retired well over a decade ago.

    As the NSW leadership disappeared the stupid decisions and errors crept in. Dropped balls, silly penalties and finally loose defence. Wade Graham missed Josh McGuire who spun away from the defensive line and found himself in the clear.

    While Maroon support came in the form of Will Chambers, the Blues players kept backpedalling and somehow Dane Gagai scored. When Thurston kicked the goal there was only four points the difference.

    Surely the New South Wales team would not allow Queensland back into the match? Surely their generals would take control, right the ship and ensure a series victory.

    Surely they would.

    But they didn’t. I’m not even certain if Cordner, Maloney or Pearce were on the field after the 55th minute.

    However, I certainly saw Smith, Cronk, Slater and Thurston. They were everywhere. Marshalling their troops, directing the play and trying desperately to stay off the canvas, to stay on their feet and somehow steal a win against the odds and stop their dynasty ending right there on the turf of ANZ Stadium.

    While the NSW leadership went missing, I did see Wade Graham giving away penalties and missing tackles. And Jarryd Hayne – the hero of the 2014 series and scorer of a first half try – missed five tackles but, far worse than that, he gave away two penalties and made four errors.

    Hayne went a long way to giving the Maroons the field position and the possession that they needed to get back into the game. A couple of those errors were dumb and a few of the misses bad.

    The last of Hayne’s missed tackles was on Dane Gagai as he scored in the 76th minute to tie the game up.

    And then, as if it had been scripted, it all came down to Johnathan Thurston. A man who probably should have hung up his Maroon jersey the season before. A man who, just 30 minutes earlier, had looked like he would bow out of State of Origin a loser, now had the chance to steal the game.

    With the crowd aiming a thunderous cacophony of hatred towards him and his right arm hanging in pain from his clearly injured shoulder, Thurston lined up the conversion.


    ( AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    There is ice flowing in that man’s veins.

    I can’t even hit a three wood off the tee or pee at the urinal if someone is watching. Yet with 80,000 people screaming for him to miss Thurston coolly slotted the ball over the black dot.

    Born on Anzac Day, Thurston is very arguably the greatest Australian rugby league player of all time. In the forty years I’ve been avidly following rugby league only Wally Lewis can hold a candle to him.

    However, his teammates Cam Smith and Billy Slater will be remembered as greats too. And so too may Cooper Cronk.

    These four incredible ageing footballers, who have been so good for so long, once more managed to humiliate New South Wales by winning a game they had no right to. By doing it they have managed to take the series back to Brisbane for a deciding match in front of their adoring fans.

    And maybe, just maybe, they can conjure up one last series victory and go out winners.

    Age will weary us all and the years condemn. Even the greatest of champions must fall. But for these Queensland greats it was not this day.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

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    The Crowd Says (231)

    • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:02am
      Longarm said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:02am | ! Report

      “They must have been wishing that they’d hung up the boots in 2016 rather than pushing on for one more series of $30,000 paydays only to go out vanquished, their aura removed, their legacy eroded.”
      Lol, you might wish that losing one series could erode their legacy but that’s just stupid. And to suggest that the only reason they played last night is for 30 grand is hyperbole. The only person who you could argue plays origin for the payday is hayne

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:57am
        Pedro the Maroon said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        You want hyperbole – then read the fox sports player ratings.
        According to their ratings NSW won by 50 points. Truly bizarro world stuff. They rated Pearce 7.5 and Thurston 6.5. Same ratings for Tedesco and Slater. And they’re the reasonable ratings.

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 10:55am
          irons said | June 22nd 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          player ratings have got to be the most pointless post-game aspects of media coverage. way why the average pleb bothers reading them is beyond me.

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 7:06am
        Soothsayer said | June 22nd 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

        How about Thurston’s pass on the last when Hayne nailed him? He threw forward knowing it wouldn’t be called. Such was his class!

        • Columnist

          June 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am
          Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

          He threw it forward knowing it wouldn’t be called…

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:27am
          clayts said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Pretty sure there was a forward pass (only a metre so it wasn’t called) out of dummy half for NSW 2nd try. Must have known it wouldn’t be called.

      • Columnist

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:14am
        Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        I don’t think you’re across what I wish for. I had QLD 1-12 and NSW/QLD half time full time double. I’ll be photographed with my arm around a steak tonight!
        You’re right… $30,000 a game has nothing to do with a players urge to continue playing when geriatric. After all they’ve only won 10 series, they’ve proved nothing until they’ve won eleven.
        And accusing me of hyperbowl… sir, you insult me! I demand satisfaction.

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:58am
          spruce moose said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          “I’ll be photographed with my arm around a steak tonight!” Just superb.

          “Homer doesn’t mean to be rude. He’s just a very complicated man.” “WRONG!”

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:11am
        Charlie Turner said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        Longarm, it appears you have an irony deficiency.

    • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:05am
      Gray-Hand said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:05am | ! Report

      ‘Twas but a single swallow…

      • Columnist

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am
        Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        European or African?

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 8:27am
          Gray-Hand said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          Couldn’t tell – it came and went to quickly!

        • Roar Guru

          June 22nd 2017 @ 9:44am
          sheek said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report


          A more appropriate headline might have been:

          The Queensland champions rise one more time to humiliate the NSW scribes.

          Let the wailing begin!

          • Columnist

            June 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am
            Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            You will recall Sheek I predicted QLD would win last night because of better leadership. And I’m from the ACT of course!

            • Roar Guru

              June 22nd 2017 @ 11:18am
              sheek said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report


              I wasn’t thinking of you in particular but a few other scribes. But the headline was too good not to comment about it!

              • Columnist

                June 22nd 2017 @ 11:31am
                Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                Me? Touchy? Never….

            • Roar Guru

              June 22nd 2017 @ 11:35am
              jeznez said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

              Dynasty still over though Tim?

              • Columnist

                June 22nd 2017 @ 1:35pm
                Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Are you accusing me of Hyperbowl!?!?

              • Roar Guru

                June 22nd 2017 @ 3:48pm
                jeznez said | June 22nd 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

                Ha ha, nah just a little nudge after your article post game 1.

                Your comments from that article were looking good in the first half hour. The NSW defensive line just stopped coming up in that second half. You can’t give play makers of that ability that much time to run at you.

              • Columnist

                June 22nd 2017 @ 4:00pm
                Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

                Absolutely not. Correct.

          • June 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm
            Griffo said | June 22nd 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

            By the way some NSW supporters are talking (not all) an appropriate headline for this match would be:

            DEUS EX MAttchecCHINA.

            I agree with Tim though. Nananananananana Leaders!

            • Columnist

              June 22nd 2017 @ 4:01pm
              Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

              Nanananananana leaders leaders leaders!

        • Roar Guru

          June 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am
          sheek said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          As a Monty Python fan, i love that swallow response.

          • Roar Guru

            June 22nd 2017 @ 11:35am
            jeznez said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            was very good, I believe the sorcerer’s name was Tim. Is Mr Gore, John Cleese in disguise?

            • Columnist

              June 22nd 2017 @ 1:57pm
              Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

              I truly wish I had just the talent that man has in his toe jam…

              • June 22nd 2017 @ 3:28pm
                Griffo said | June 22nd 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                This is what made his walks so silly

    • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:08am
      Swannies said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      Biggest fluke last night. Blues will get the job done in game 3 and win the series. It WILL be the start of a Blues dynasty. Blues are clearly the better side and Qld are riding some good fortune. Bad luck Laurie but you will be rewarded in Brisbane.

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:26am
        BigRed from PNG said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

        Hahahaha you’re funny…keep dreaming.

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 7:37am
          dan said | June 22nd 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

          It has to end BigRed. and what better way to end it in Brisbane.

          • Columnist

            June 22nd 2017 @ 8:17am
            Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

            It does have to end. But it was not this day.

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:34am
        Gray-Hand said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Hopefully it will last longer than a fortnight.

      • June 23rd 2017 @ 9:43pm
        Rob said | June 23rd 2017 @ 9:43pm | ! Report

        You arent allowed to say the D word until you win 3 series in a row. The D word cant be used for a team that has trouble winning one series let alone 2 in a row.
        They arent even in the D word galaxy

    • June 22nd 2017 @ 7:15am
      kk said | June 22nd 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report


    • June 22nd 2017 @ 7:29am
      Agent11 said | June 22nd 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Both teams kept going wide all night with little avail and somehow QLD just came out on top. Daley and the selectors need to drop Hayne and Dugan and actually pick some centres. They won’t though, cause “they is origin players”. Dugan looked great at fullback but he is no origin centre and Hayne was awful, almost a liability.

      If Thurston comes back again for game 3 then NSW can kiss another series goodbye and I really don’t know where NSW go from there. It will be truly humiliating.

      • Columnist

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am
        Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Some players can be picked out of position but those two struggle defending in the Centre’s for sure.

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 12:50pm
          Albo said | June 22nd 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          Tim, I think you pretty much nailed what happened last night.
          NSW lacked leadership & game management after halftime. Hayne & Graham in particular made a number of dumb errors that relieved pressure off QLD on their line and gave them a couple of half chances that the greatly converted. The NSW halves went missing after halftime and their game was allowed to drift along directionless. The Queenslanders too were way down on form, their forwards changes had no significant impact on the game, and only the dogged determination and experience from the “old firm” of Smith and the one armed Thurston had just enough nous and energy to get them over the line, yet again. It was a match where QLD should have been obliterated by halftime if Hayne hadn’t butchered another try near the break, or even if they had controlled the ball and kicked well in that 2nd half. But they didn’t , they played dumb, and so the legend of “QLD spirit ” was prolonged for another match or possibly the series ?

      • Columnist

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:20am
        Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Who would you pick/drop?

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 10:47am
          Agent11 said | June 22nd 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          well its not like NSW don’t have options. Jennings, Morris, Croker, Walker, Roberts, Peachy, Bird…

          • Columnist

            June 22nd 2017 @ 11:32am
            Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            Walker, leilua…

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:00am
        AGO74 said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        I actually think of Tedesco was at fullback for last try instead of Dugan he may have stopped gagai. Dugan was cantering across field as qld spread the ball whereas Tedesco I’m sure would have been able to at least make some sort of impact and attempt at tackle.

        • Roar Guru

          June 22nd 2017 @ 12:51pm
          jeznez said | June 22nd 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          Tedesco was quieter than in game one but has to be retained at FB. Completely agree with Agent 11 that the centres need changing. I’d go further and suggest the wings do as well.

          Shift Hayne onto one wing, Tom Turbo on the other and then pick two centres that can defend. Morris would actually be an option along with a bunch of the names you have above.

          Ferguson is doing nothing, taking the odd hit up after a scrum or a kick is not enough.

    • June 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am
      qwetzen said | June 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Speaking of the turf at ANZ…. Why is it always so slippery?

      On the game… the refs did very well, and certain NSW players were reminded yet again that they aren’t as good as their press. And as a Foxteller, I’d forgotten how biased Guts is. I thought he was going to cry when the hooter went.

      • Roar Guru

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:00am
        Magnus M. Østergaard said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        I think the Dew point in NSW is earlier than QLD.

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:33am
          qwetzen said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          Ah. So it’s not the hair product of certain players.

      • Columnist

        June 22nd 2017 @ 8:21am
        Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Volume off on Telly and listened to Andrew Moore on ABC Grandstand.

        • Roar Guru

          June 22nd 2017 @ 8:48am
          Jason Hosken said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

          Who scored the stats gig for ABC last night?

          Is there a selection process in the build up, does form count? I’ve got to say TG, I enjoy you chiming into the ABC commentary frontline of a weekend. Tearing apart Luke Kelly after 10 minutes last season with a handful of errors still makes me grin.

          • Columnist

            June 22nd 2017 @ 11:33am
            Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            Andrew is well across the stats himself! He’s a modern day commentator!

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 8:49am
          Alan said | June 22nd 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          My labrador can’t stand the commentary from anywhere so I watch with telly muted and the soothing sounds of Paul Simon keeping her happy…It’s amazing what you see actually happen as opposed to hearing what Gus and Rabs tell you happens.

          Great write up Tim, I thought they were gone for all money and was watching the second half as much out of respect as with any great hope.

          Great game though!

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:32am
          qwetzen said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Alas, due to technical reasons, I can’t do that. (Foxtel/lag/no antenna)
          I’m amazed, and seriously depressed, at how many RL ‘writers’ obviously do listen to Nein. Why? Do they get a backhander?

          • Columnist

            June 22nd 2017 @ 10:10am
            Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            Ray Warren is actually a very good caller.
            Andrew Johns knows his stuff. So do Lockyer and Wally.
            And Sterling is magnificent.
            Some of the others might not be so crash hot however.

            • June 22nd 2017 @ 12:33pm
              Jimbob said | June 22nd 2017 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

              Sorry but Lockyer and Lewis speak absolute frontier gibberish. And that’s coming from a Queensland fan. I have no idea what they’re on about.

            • Roar Guru

              June 22nd 2017 @ 1:23pm
              Sleiman Azizi said | June 22nd 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

              Knowing your stuff is completely different to speaking about in the media.

              Lockyer and Lewis and Fittler are some of the worst paid commentators I have ever witnessed.

              Warren has had his day.

              I’ve come to see that Sterling is merely competent since it is easy to look good when you are surrounded by Lockyer, Lewis and Fittler.

              Imagine how good Sterling could have been had he been surrounded by a team that could actually lift his game!

            • June 22nd 2017 @ 3:36pm
              Griffo said | June 22nd 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

              Unfortunately for Ray I think his eyesight might be failing him. He often confuses one player with another.

              • June 22nd 2017 @ 4:12pm
                Art Vanderlay said | June 22nd 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                I don’t think that’s the result of failing eyesight – more the compounding effect of decades on the grog.

              • June 22nd 2017 @ 6:15pm
                Art Vandelay said | June 22nd 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                Could you please use another name. As I’ve already claimed this

        • June 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am
          kk said | June 22nd 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          Tim, are you able to synchronise the call?. The radio is ahead of the play.

          A Roarer suggested ways to adjust but I have not been able to achieve that.

          Pity, the ABC Grandstand team are best.

          • Roar Guru

            June 22nd 2017 @ 10:39am
            Jason Hosken said | June 22nd 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            Hey MAX – they’re good but they’re no Alan Marks and Reg Gasnier.

            • June 22nd 2017 @ 11:01am
              kk said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              The Silk Department of yesteryear.

              • Columnist

                June 22nd 2017 @ 11:34am
                Tim Gore said | June 22nd 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

                No, radio in front. But as I’m taking lotsa notes that’s sort of good. Tells me when to look up.

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:29am
        clayts said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Yep. Once Rabs started calling QLD ‘they’, i muted it. It was so much better with the volume off.

        Then once QLD won, I unmuted it to get some excitement from the audio. What I got was Gus almost in tears.

      • June 22nd 2017 @ 9:59am
        Haradasun said | June 22nd 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Because they built the stadium on top of a swamp

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