Billy Slater goes out a winning Origin captain, man of the match, and man of the series

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    My lasting memory of last night’s epic Origin 3 at Suncorp was Billy Slater and wife Nicole in a big hug with tears flowing in concert with the rain.

    But they were tears of pure joy.

    Slater had earlier run onto Suncorp alone for the 31st and last time for Queensland, but the first time as captain, to such thunderous applause from the faithful that my television set took a wobbly.

    In the early minutes he very nearly scored a try and, in the 30th, was denied another when NSW pivot James Maloney took him out without the ball, earning himself a trip to the bin.

    More Origin 3
    » GORE: Queensland prove every single Origin match matters
    » Who rose to the occasion for the Maroons? All Queensland players rated
    » Every New South Wales player’s Game 3 effort rated
    » Seven talking points from Origin 3
    » WATCH: Complete match highlights from Billy Slater’s triumphant farewell

    For the rest of the game the debut skipper was the inspiration, driving his troops to victory to avoid a series whitewash, and in the process picking up the man of the match, and man of the series awards.

    It would be fair to say Billy went out with a big bang.

    But it would also be fair to say halfback Daley Cherry-Evans, back in maroon for the first time in three years, pushed Slater all the way for the man of the match honour.

    Cherry-Evans’ passing and kicking was sharp and accurate, and he covered an enormous amount of positive ground in general play – it was a sensational comeback.

    He set up Valentine Holmes’ second try in the 52nd minute, and scored one himself under the black dot in the 58th to seal the win.

    So, New South Wales won the series, but Queensland won 18-12 last night in front of 51,214 with 178 countries watching one of the very best of Origins called by veteran Ray Warren for the 90th time.

    Holmes kick-started the scoring in the 11th minute with a 90-metre intercept to convert and land a penalty to lead 8-0.

    For the next 26 minutes it was all Queensland hammering the NSW line, only incredibly courageous defence held them out.

    Then it was Tom Trbojevic’s turn for a 95-metre intercept for NSW, and fullback James Tedesco’s for another try – both converted by Nathan Cleary with first-choice kicker Maloney in the bin.

    The Blues led 12-8 at the break, and must have thought all their Christmases had come at once. How on earth could they lead with blow-all ball?

    But the massive NSW defensive effort of 239 tackles to 137 in the first half took its toll in the second.

    Three brain-dead decisions were costly.

    David Klemmer deliberately tripped Ben Hunt without the ball and was lucky not to be binned.

    Tariq Sims crash tackled the Ben Hunt, his marker, without the ball. Angus Crichton failed to offload with speedster James Roberts unmarked outside him, bombing a certain try.

    It matters not, NSW was the best team in the series but Queensland the best last night, setting up the 2019 series with the big four of the decade-plus Queensland domination – Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, and Billy Slater – all moved on.

    But standby for the Ponga-Cherry-Evans-Munster-Holmes era that NSW will have to overcome – Queensland just keep producing them.

    Maybe Brad Fittler has found the key to making NSW a genuine contender, but it’s far too early to rate them the new dynasty.

    One thing is certain, rugby league’s Holy Grail is in the very best of hands.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2018 @ 10:04am
      Cadfael said | July 12th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Maybe Man of the Match but not Man of the series. Maloney, Cook, Cleary were all better contenders.

      • Roar Guru

        July 12th 2018 @ 10:24am
        Renegade said | July 12th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report


      • July 12th 2018 @ 8:58pm
        DP Schaefer said | July 12th 2018 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

        Not Cleary, and as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, these people you mentioned lost form when Slater was on the park. I personally didn’t agree with the decision, but given he brought his state up level and adversely affected the form of almost the entire Blues squad (few Blues improved after Game 1) the it’s hardly such a bad decision. Slater was huge in 2 games others weren’t. Even NRL site review acknowledged on averages he was above all others.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 11:55am
      Paul said | July 12th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      Billy didn’t play game one, played a bit over half of game two where his side lost the series, then played a full game three where he was good without being spectacular. JT should have won the player of the series last year on that basis!

      Tedesco was clearly player of the series followed by Tommy Turbo and then Cook.

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2018 @ 12:39pm
      The Barry said | July 12th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

      Just saw these numbers posted on Facebook so I claim no credit for putting them together (or blame if they’re incorrect 🤣)

      It’s a comparison of Tedesco’s stats for the series versus Slater’s.

      They’re pretty compelling.

      Tries: Tedesco 2, Slater 0
      Try Assists: Tedesco 2, Slater 0
      Runs: Tedesco 54, Slater 30
      Run Meters: Tedesco 502, Slater 254
      Tackle Breaks: Tedesco 25, Slater 6
      Line Breaks: Tedesco 4, Slater 0
      Line Break Assists: Tedesco 3, Slater 2
      Tackles: Tedesco 20, Slater 8
      Errors: Tedesco 1, Slater 3

      • July 12th 2018 @ 3:22pm
        Jed Clampit said | July 12th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        That has revived my faith in the legitimacy of such awards after the Fafita fiasco of a few years ago .
        It appears you can now , fool all of the people all of the time.

      • July 13th 2018 @ 7:46am
        G M said | July 13th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Billy was not even second best in the series, that would probably go to Cook after Tedesco. Actually Billy probably also wasnt the best player on Wednesday night, DCE had an outstanding kicking display forcing dropouts at will, building pressure, and backing up when required.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm
      uglykiwi said | July 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      Absolute joke of an award; maybe have a look at the betting!!!! Who backed Slater to win Man of series? He would have been 1000/1.

      Didnt play game 1.
      Played well in game 2; BUT LOST
      game 3: DEAD RUBBER, series over; played well.

      How can you get man of series????

      Disgrace!! NRL is a joke.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm
      Eddie Otto said | July 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

      The Man of the Series award to Billy was fairly outrageous given he only played 2 games and QLD lost the series. However lets not overshadow how good he has been and how much influence he has on this QLD side. After missing nearly 2 years with shoulder injuries he came back in Game 2 of both the past 2 series and was very strong in all 4 games. I think he himself would have been a bit miffed about getting the Man of the Series.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 1:37pm
      canetoad said | July 12th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

      you have got to laugh bozo brigade

      The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

      yet it is the online representation of the NRL …

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