Maroons prove there is no such thing as a dead rubber in Origin

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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    There was no doubt that the Maroons wanted it bad. Really bad.

    They wanted to send Billy Slater out a winner. They wanted to avoid a whitewash.

    And for the first 37 minutes it looked like they’d achieve those things easily. Their possession stats were incredible.

    More Origin 3
    » Dead rubber? Game 3 proved there’s no such thing in Origin
    » Seven talking points from Origin 3
    » Queensland Maroons player ratings: Game 3
    » NSW Blues player ratings: Game 3
    » WATCH: All the highlights as Queensland send Billy Slater out a winner

    Queensland had ten more sets than NSW. They made 460 more metres with the ball in hand. They made the New South Welshmen make 90 more tackles.

    They’d done it through some superb forward play and some great kicking from Daly Cherry-Evans. They forced five repeat sets through dropouts, and their focused and determined play had the Blues conceding five penalties to the solitary one of their own.

    They had the ball for ten more minutes than the Blues over the first 40.

    And in the 31st minute, Jimmy Maloney got sin binned for deliberately blocking Billy Slater’s run.

    They should have gone into halftime up by 18 at least.

    However, for all that dominance, the Blues would not relent in defence.

    Like Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, defending the hot gates at the battle of Thermopylae, the New South Welshmen formed a defensive wall that the Maroons could only breach through an intercept try to Valentine Holmes in the 11th minute.

    Again and again, they threw their frames at the blue wall. Again and again they were repelled.

    Then, in the 37th minute, Cam Munster threw a wide ball to Dane Gagai and Corey Oates, who had a two on one. The problem was that the one was Tom Trbojevic and he intercepted the pass and ran 90 metres to score.

    All of a sudden it was 8-6 and all of that possession counted for nothing.

    Then, three minutes later – on the stroke of halftime – Josh McGuire made a bad read in defence and allowed Jim Tedesco to score untouched next to the posts.

    All of a sudden it was oranges and Boyd Cordner’s blue Spartans had not just repelled the Maroons, they were in the lead. They had withstood a seemingly endless siege and somehow had come out in front.

    Boyd Cordner NSW Blues.

    It looked dire for Queensland. When Kevin Walters told Darren Lockyer at halftime that he was confident that all his side had to do was fix up their attack and they’d get away with the win, I wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince: us, or himself?

    It seemed we’d seen the turning of the tide and NSW were about to roll over Queensland.

    When Walters replaced Andrew McCullough in the 31st minute with Ben Hunt, the passing from dummy half immediately suffered. McCullough’s balls give his runners an advantage. While not Harbour Bridge passes, Hunt’s distribution did not. Further, McCullough’s defence at dummy half is second to none, while the Dragons halfback isn’t a noted defender.

    Yet McCullough would not return to the field for the rest of the game.

    When the second half resumed, the Blues made 90 metres on their first set, with Tom Trbojevic going through Ben Hunt during the set. Maloney returned to thefield in time for the final play of the set and forced a repeat set.

    The writing surely was on the wall. Not only had the Maroon dynasty ended, but the Blues were going to sack their capital and salt their fields as well.

    But the Maroons held on. The Blues came close but couldn’t breach the Maroons defence. The Blues won the possession in the second half but that was all they won.

    In the 51st minute Valentine Holmes finished a great backline move to score in the corner to level the scores. Then seven minutes later Daly Cherry-Evans capped a triumphant return to State of Origin, finishing off a Cameron Munster break to score under the posts.

    While Billy Slater may have been awarded the official man of the match award, DCE could not have been far off that prize. It is hard to imagine a scenario – outside injury – where the Manly playmaker won’t retain the Maroon number seven in 2019 on that performance.

    Queensland were out to a six point lead and they would not relinquish it, despite a determined Blues side fighting right to the final whistle.

    In the end the win came down to the little moments.

    With his side in possession in the 50th minute, debutante Tariq Sims decided that tackling the marker, Ben Hunt, and driving him into the ground was a good option. Gerard Sutton disagreed and awarded the Maroons a penalty. The Queenslanders took full advantage of that possession and field position with Holmes scoring on the next set.

    Valentine Holmes

    With his side deep in attack on the Maroons line in the 64th minute, David Klemmer played the ball and quickly followed that by deliberately tripping Ben Hunt. Ash Klein saw it and gave the Maroons a very relieving penalty.

    Latrell Mitchell made a silly error. Angus Crichton held the ball too long rather than releasing James Roberts with a quick ball.

    These little moments are part of what ended up separating the two sides.

    However, none was more important than Valentine Holmes flying Superman leap to take a superb intercept in the 77th minute. Outnumbered again, he knew that he had to cut off the ball. He flew at the ball with the sort of desperation that you really only see in grand finals or State of Origin games.

    That he didn’t just cut off the ball, but also maintained possession, was vital.

    There were so many great performances from both sides with not one player really being able to be singled out for having a poor game. For Queensland I felt that Daly Cherry-Evans, Valentine Holmes, Billy Slater and Gavin Cooper were the best, with Josh Papalii doing very well in the front row.

    Daly Cherry-Evans

    For New South Wales Tom Trbojevic, Damien Cook, Jake Trbojevic and Tyson Frizell – whose chase on Valentine Holmes from the far side of the field once more showcased his superb speed – were all very good.

    It is fitting that that Billy Slater was able to exit the stage a winner. He finishes on 31 Origin games, the same amount as Brad Fittler and Wally Lewis – which is very fitting company for the boy from Innisfail.

    He has been an ornament to the interstate competition since he started in Maroon 15 years ago.

    And the match was superb, probably the best in the series.

    It proves, once more, that there is no such thing as a dead rubber in State of Origin.

    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 (151)

    • July 12th 2018 @ 6:24am
      Adsa said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      It was great game, and a good series with NSW deserved winners. Your previous article suggesting DCE was given a poison chalice seems a bit off the mark. I think on his performance he will go close to being Captain next year rather than collateral damage from a dead rubber.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 6:49am
      Graham said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Queenslands problem was they just didn’t have enough decoy runners which made it easy for NSW defence in the 1st half

      they fixed that in the second half and cashed in on all the fatigue NSW had from half 1

      Walters is learning but his teams have gone out with tactical mistakes in two series. Still I’ve seen him fix problems so I hope he grows into origin

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2018 @ 6:50am
      Renegade said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      What about poor DCE and his poisoned chalice Tim? 😏

      • Columnist

        July 12th 2018 @ 7:20am
        Tim Gore said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        I actually wanted to headline it as “sh1t sandwich” but stupid editor said no. I said “it means he gets results stupid captain!”

        As I suggested in that piece, DCE was playing for his origin future. Seems he has one, doesn’t it?!
        I’m really pleased for him.

        • Roar Pro

          July 16th 2018 @ 3:54pm
          Ghost Crayfish said | July 16th 2018 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

          Remarkable win, considering QLD had no hope at all of victory and had only even picked DCE so that they’d have an excuse to drop him again.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 6:59am
      Kangas said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      In a month of incredible sport across the world
      this game was up there , truly brilliant .

      • Columnist

        July 12th 2018 @ 7:20am
        Tim Gore said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        It really was great, wasn’t it!

      • July 12th 2018 @ 7:28am
        peeko said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        best month of the year Kangas

    • July 12th 2018 @ 7:06am
      Fish said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      DCE was man of the match. That would of been poetic. Perhaps a little too poetic for Mal Meninga.

      All this talk of a Blues Dynasty is at best fanciful. I look at the the spine for Qld and they will be just fine.

      Also Nathan Cleary. He had an opportunity to stand out last night, but didn’t take it. I hope he isn’t another Pearce.

      • July 12th 2018 @ 7:12am
        Graham said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

        Cleary is very young and could improve

        but tackling below 80%, getting 0 tries 0 assists, 0 line breaks, 0 line break assists, losing the kicking battle for territory and forcing a single drop out is not a good start. Possibly the quietest number 7 I can remember. Cook, todesco and to a degree maloney of course caused QLD headaches throughout the series making up for a weak halfback

        • Columnist

          July 12th 2018 @ 7:17am
          Tim Gore said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

          Pearce was injured…

          • July 12th 2018 @ 7:49am
            Graham said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report


            Hopefully they persist with Cleary and Maloney until Cody walker is too old to play origin 😀

        • July 12th 2018 @ 12:42pm
          Jacko said | July 12th 2018 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Cleary is over rated and over glorified by gould. He will be another pearce.

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

            Who would you have as the NSW half back ?

            • Roar Rookie

              July 12th 2018 @ 4:02pm
              Matthew Pearce said | July 12th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

              Don’t think anyone disputes that Cleary has the potential to be the next dominant halfback, but all the hype so far has been about absolutely nothing, save for a couple of decent tackles.

          • July 12th 2018 @ 6:39pm
            Jacko said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

            Find your own name Fake jacko

      • July 12th 2018 @ 8:12am
        Pedro the Maroon said | July 12th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        DCE, Munster, Morgan, Holmes – there’s a good spine. With Hunt at hooker and Ponga at lock.

        • July 12th 2018 @ 9:33am
          Max Danger said | July 12th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          please play Holmes at Fullback

      • July 12th 2018 @ 11:33am
        Jacko said | July 12th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        Cleary is just another Pearce. An over rated glorified kid.

        • July 12th 2018 @ 6:32pm
          Jacko said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

          Lets be clear….I am Jacko and have been on here for 3 years now…This Jacko is a fake Jacko
          And Cleary is very good for his age and will continue to get better as he gets more experience and i dont mind pearce as well

          • Roar Guru

            July 12th 2018 @ 6:43pm
            Emcie said | July 12th 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

            Oh no! We have a Jack off!

            • July 12th 2018 @ 9:04pm
              Jacko said | July 12th 2018 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

              Will the real Jacko please stand up!

              • July 13th 2018 @ 9:05am
                Jacko said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

                And the fake 1 please FRFFFFF off

          • July 14th 2018 @ 12:23am
            Jacko macho said | July 14th 2018 @ 12:23am | ! Report

            No buddy. Iam jacko. Go jump in the lake.

    • July 12th 2018 @ 7:25am
      bazza said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      I think NSW series problem is lack of go forward out of our end it really hurt us. Clearly looked good when JM was in the Sin Bin.

      Clearly Defence in the series was top notch and saved many breaks and oppertunities for QLD.
      Goalkicking will hurt QLD next yr as well like it did this year

      • July 12th 2018 @ 7:51am
        Graham said | July 12th 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        It really did

        Maybe rhyse Martin can take over goal kicking

        • July 12th 2018 @ 9:33am
          Max Danger said | July 12th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          you mean those kicks from the sideline that holmes missed?

          • July 12th 2018 @ 2:35pm
            Graham said | July 12th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            A good kicker hits at least one of them. Only need to hit one and the match is tied up when roberts is sent off. Completely different game.

            Not Holmes fault. He’s brilliant, QLD just need to find a goal kicker

            • Roar Guru

              July 12th 2018 @ 4:41pm
              Matt H said | July 12th 2018 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

              DCE kicks goals.

      • July 13th 2018 @ 9:25pm
        Haz said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

        Rhyse Martin nails em blindfolded from the sidelines, both sides. He’ll get his chance next year for Qld.

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