By Stephen Gallagher
You’re probably questioning the question mark in the title, but that’s more to do with this feeling more ranty than a preview…. Sorry!
It’s Origin II tonight. In Melbourne. That’s one thing I don’t really understand.
Perhaps you can just call me a bitter Blues fan, but I think the whole ‘New South Wales versus Queensland’ thing is pretty self explanitory, and should be played in those respective states. I don’t want a game to come to New Zealand, nor do I want them to continue with Melbourne (lets face it, may as well be another home game for Queensland).
The Canetoads took game one, it was one of the worst Origin games in the last five years – but’s that’s not a refletion on how poor the game was, but just how we’ve built ourselves up with the ultimate expectation of ‘State Against State, Mate Against Mate’ mentality.
An 11-10 outcome was probably fair in terms of the game. Queensland have that extra clutch. That last ten minutes is always where Queensland will beat you – which is exactly what they did. A Cooper Cronk field goal seperated the two sides, in what was a smooth piece of execution. Something New South Wales couldn’t put together. Despite their efforts, they fell short at home. That’s a tough one to cop, especially since they’re current shield holders.
Before I tough on the game, I’ve always loved Origin. It’s been a part of me growing up. My Mum, who is a bigger league fan than me loved
NSW, my father was a QLD fan – he loved the underdogs, which as we all know that’s what they were when this concept began all those moons ago.
There’s one thing in particular this year that has left me with a cockroach in my throat – and that’s the amount of bullshit being bitched between the two camps.
“Hey so and so! You’re a grub! You lot have grubby tactics!:
“Yeah? Well we don’t care, we’re gonna smash ya!”
“We’ve had enough of your tactics! Bring it on!”
It’s all taking away the shine of the game to me. It’s almost, almost petty. All this jibber jabber needs to be backed up on the field – and with pressure on NSW to square the series – you best hope they fire, with all the lead up being more verbal than action based.
This takes me back about ten years to the ANZAC tests, where the Kiwis would put all their energy in to the war dance pre-game, but then end up getting pumped something like 30-10. I’d much rather see the on-field battle be better than the war of words. That’s why I think Origin I let me down in terms of a spectacle. It lacked in most departments.
Anyway. Game II is tonight. Who’s got what it takes?
New South Wales will be judged on this match, and the judgement will be best reserved for Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson. If they lose – these two will be sent to the firey pits of Origin hell.
Despite Pearce being a talent, his Origin record is worse than the Warriors in the final 20 minutes of a game. I am sure he will one day be the most capped NRL player in history, but none of that will matter unless he can lead the Blues to a Game III decider.
The Queenslanders will have a gymnist joining Johnathan Thurston in the halves, but Daly Cherry-Evans cares not for your backflip jokes.
He’s no Cooper Cronk, but he’s a bloody wonderful footballer who is more than capable to take over, and will take over when this current squad finally breaks down and finishes.
He is a fantastic runner with ball in hand, and his vision is second to none. Any team would be happy to take DCE, but it’d take until the 11th hour to know whether he was going to play for you or not.
Blues’ dangerman is Josh Dugan. He was outstanding in Game I, and has been sensational since joining the Red V in 2013. His life is on track, with ball in hand carting the ball back – he is deadly. I for one hope to see him get a bit more space than he did in Game I, because I watch in awe when he does. It’s a sight that cockroach fans would die for, but canetoads are looking to wrap him up quickly.
Queensland’s attack will revolve around Greg Inglis. He needs to get more touches of the footy. It’s hard for GI to play in the centres as he’s flourished in the 1 jumper at Souths, but he seems to be more reserved, and leaving a lot out on the field come the 80th minute. He’s a freak, he’s a future immortal – there’s no doubting that. He’s a Queensland legend, and for the Maroons to wrap up the series in Victoria – he has to play a major part.
It saddens me to say, but the Queenslanders are going to win this one. I don’t feel confident. As I type this piece up sitting in my NSW Blues onesie, I don’t feel this is going to end well tonight.
And for the love of god, if it’s 10-all with 5 minutes to go, and you get in field goal range – sort something out New South Wales!
I expect the first half to be physical – that’s where the result is decided. Whoever can capitalise on mistakes, build pressure and make their opposition tackle themselves silly – this game will be over early. I don’t predict a big margin – but the damage will be done.
Queensland to win by 6. The shield will be back in the hands of the Maroons.
Bring on Game II. I hope it lives up to the hype!
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