New South Wales 38 defeated Penalty Try 6
Ah, my State of Origin debut, and my goodness, what an atmosphere.
With some 15,000 people flying in from the Eastern states for the game, most of them appearing to be from the Sunshine State, I’d say pretty much all of them would’ve been disappointed when they found out the only grog Optus was selling on tap was Great Northern.
GREAT BLOODY NORTHERN.
No Single Fin, no XXXX or Toohey’s on tap to commemorate this marvellous occasion.
It’s fair to say I went home sober.
The other factor that drew bipartisan support from both sets of fans, was when Adam Gilchrist showed up to talk about Perth and how much we’ve grown since he came to play cricket for WA in 1994.
Everyone loves Gilly.
He’s a good bloke.
Eventually, the festivities finished, and the game began!
The Blues were immediately on the attack, and they came close 4 minutes in, when Tommy Turbo almost reached over adjacent to Bay 120.
Of course, they threw a forward pass from the dropout, but two minutes later, Tommy Turbo scored the opening try off a James Maloney bomb aimed at the Port Headland legend Kalyn Ponga, and the Blatchy’s Blues contingent went nuts… if the New South Wales chants hadn’t fired them up.
5 minutes later, Queensland’s most attacking player all night, Penalty Try, stamped himself yet again as an Origin player on par with Dane Gagai, providing an assist for Will Chambers, who was impeded by Jack Wighton on his chase for the ball, to get the Maroons what turned out to be their only try of the night.
If it wasn’t awarded a try, then NSW would’ve been penalised and Wighton become the latest Blues player to be sin-binned in an Origin match.
Ironically, the Maroons probably would’ve preferred the no-try and playing against 12.
After 18 minutes, Tyson Frizell did his thing, fooling everyone by thinking he was going to knock on before reaching over to reclaim the lead, and what a stroke of luck that was for the New South Welshpeople, because about two minutes later the rain came, and the entire game changed.
Fortunately, my $270 seat (Yep) was mostly undercover, while the peasants up in Level 3 laughed at us snobs who thought they were getting the best view of the action.
After the rain came down, the Blues really started looking more dangerous, and their forward pack, led by skipper Boyd Cordner & Jake Trbojevic, really started pounding the Maroons defence in the trying conditions.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t seen something in Blue from New South Wales start looking that dominant in wet conditions since… well… this lady.
Anyway, the Blues became the first team to strike in the wet, when James Tedesco put in a beautiful dummy half run around the edge of the defence, and then offloaded to Tommy Turbo to bring up a double in the 35th minute, and the margin increased to 18-6 following the conversion.
Apparently Channel Nine had issues with their on-screen timeclock after Maloney threw a forward pass to screw up a certain try to Josh Addo-Carr in the 37th minute, and the subsequent scrum packed down… in the 32nd minute.
A 45 minute half? I didn’t think Manchester United were coming to Perth until next month.
I was also a bit confused when Maloney took the kicking duties after Trbojevic completed his double, especially since Nathan Cleary was still on the ground, but of course that was because as we all found, Cleary got caught in a tackle, and had suffered ankle…
WAIT FOR IT..
The sporting buzzword of the decade, akin to Osteitis Pubis in the 2000s.
Anyway, the Blues were up 18-6 at the half.
With Cleary done for the night, Wade Graham went into the halves, and Maloney became the halfback, while in the meantime, I watched a man have his head turned into a football.
With the Maroons trailing 18-6, it was pretty fortunate that the bulk of the Queensland fans were at the ‘Belmont’ End, because it meant they could get a speedy exit to the trains back to the CBD.
With the rain still coming down, once the referees really started cracking down on the Maroons’ crap in the ruck (Mainly from Josh McGuire), that was probably the point where the wheels completely detached, and given the location, I was half-expecting Gerard Sutton to pay West Coast a free kick for holding the ball against Cam Munster.
That would have been the only call that the locals understood.
Maloney popped through a pair of penalty goals to make it 24-6, and at that point, there were a few Maroons fans sweating and swearing.
Although, that sweat was probably rain.
Then in the 54th minute, in the driving rain, Josh Addo-Carr provided the highlight of the night, when he broke the tiring Maroons defensive line, fed an offload to Tedesco, who pulled out that fully sick ‘Benji Marshall to Pat Richards’ flick pass to an open Tommy Turbo to complete his hat-trick and make it 26-6, which became 28-6 once Maloney added the extras, and at that point, I could literally feel the air get smacked out of the Queensland contingent, like an airbag exploding on a car crash victim.
I told the old bloke sitting next to me (Who definitely knew his league), that the last Blues player I could remember scoring an Origin hat-trick was Matt King in Game III of 2005, and as it turned out, he WAS the last Blues player to score a hat-trick prior to Tommy.
Addo-Carr finally joined in the fun, being on the receiving end of some brilliant team football from Damien Cook, Graham and Wighton to score in the corner, although it did lead to Maloney’s perfect Origin goalkicking streak ending at 25.
The fella they call ‘The Foxx’ finished off the scoring with 6 minutes to go, when he grounded a grubber from Graham, which Maloney converted this time, to cap off what was a pretty disastrous night for the Maroons.
The Foxx has now played twice at Optus Stadium.
He’s scored four tries.
The game wound down from there, and briefly picked up again after Addo-Carr’s intercept near full-time, which led to the crowd chanting like a good nag taking the lead at the Flemington clock, and in that final set, the cheap shot by Josh McGuire on Maloney (Which led to him being suspended) was missed by pretty much everyone at the ground, because it was the final set of the game, plus a penalty was never called and a replay never got shown on the screen, denying the Blues fans the chance to boo like Eagles fans.
Nobody can boo like Eagles fans.
All in all, I felt it was a guaranteed win for the people of WA, since either state was going to lose, but to the detriment of my aunt & uncle up in Witta, I backed the Cockroaches.
I’m all but guaranteed to be a persona non grata in the Sunshine State from now on.
Freddie may have been a crazy bastard making a downright crazy seven changes (Which I mocked him for), but pretty much all of them worked, as the Blues handed Queensland their heaviest defeat (32 points) since Game III in 2000- Aka, the Ryan Girdler Game… which Freddie was captain for.
One change- aside from Jimmy Maloney- that worked out was the return of Blake Ferguson over Latrell.
Blake only dropped one high ball all night (As soon as it started pissing down), and he racked up 170 metres.
In fact, 9 Blues players racked up over 100 metres.
In a tale of the tape, the Maroons only had two, as Dylan Napa’s wrist injury turned him into a ghost.
Capping off a great night for the Trbojevic brothers, Jake was awarded MOTM honours over Tommy, for his efforts in dropping the hammer on the Queensland forwards, with 133 metres on 16 runs, and 20 tackles.
I was able to capture a look at Tommy Turbo post-game, coolly applauding the fans who marveled at his slaughter of the Banana Benders.
So now, it’s all perfectly set for Game III- Crazy Fred vs Crazy Kev- Based on Games I & II, whoever pulls the crazier lead-up routine, will win the series.
Say, is that Cameron ‘Alfie’ Smith coming out of retirement I hear?
AS A REWARD FOR PUTTING ON SUCH A GREAT SPECTACLE, PERTH WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE RECEIVING AN NRL TEAM… PROBABLY CRONULLA.