The Blues won 12-8 – let’s get that out of the way from the start.
Mainly because it seems to be the one point out of last night’s State of Origin opener that everyone’s overlooking.
All the coverage you’ll read this morning is focused on one thing – just how goddamn entertaining the spectacle was.
At times, it was just carnage. There were blown shoulders, spear tackles, bodies flying through the air. Even more than you’d expect from the annual cross-border hatefest.
It was tight. The Blues had to give everything they had to hold back a possible match-winning Queenslander push in the last 45 seconds of the game.
And of course, it wouldn’t be SOO without some dodgy refereeing.
In the end, it was these five guys that made it so watchable:
It’s hard to believe that after 18 State of Origin appearances, this was his first Man of the Match award.
Andrew Johns – who knows a bit about such things – described it as “One of the great Origin performances”. The Blues’ fullback brushed off Thurston for a 33rd minute try and hit a kick return to open his second half with the kind of intent that had punters who’d backed against him screwing up their MoM tickets.
“I went to a place that I’ve never been before,” he told the SMH.
“I have never been more frightened in all my life. I had my family here.”
That’s Tate on the dangerous tackle that saw him driven headfirst towards the turf in the 28th minute. Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds is on report and could miss Origin II after the lift that almost started an all-in.
Medic Guy (both sides)
Kept busy throughout the night, starting with Cooper Cronk’s busted arm, then Brett Morris’s popped shoulder following his first-half try. Billy Slater (shoulder), Cameron Smith (foot), Paul Gallen (shoulder) and Anthony Watmough (bicep) also wore the worst of the intensity.
There’s a case to add Maroons’ fullback Billy Slater in here for his huge game, but Darius Boyd is closing in an Origin record. His two tries moved him up into second place on the list of all-time Origin try scorers – 14 from 18 matches. Only a desperate lunge from Brett Morris denied him a hat-trick.
The other Hayne
After all of that, it was Shane Hayne who held the game in his hands in the last minute. With just a try in it and less than a minute on the clock, he awarded the Maroons a penalty after ruling NSW’s Trent Hodgkinson’s non-play a knock-on. The Queenslanders couldn’t make anything from it, Blues fans jeered, then screamed again after their team gave up another penalty right on the siren.
But when Billy Slater was wrapped up, they were already talking about ending the drought.
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