Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad … But One Out Of Seven?

State Of Origin 2013By STEVE MASCORD
#1 QUEENSLAND 11 NEW SOUTH WALES 7 at Lang Park, June 8 1982.

NSW FULLBACK Greg Brentnall remembers the first time he met Gene Miles. “He ran over the top of me,” the former Australia fullback says, recalling the initial occasion NSW went into game two of an Origin series in Brisbane one-up in a series. The Blues had won the opening match of the first full series 20-16, also at Lang Park. It was the third Origin match ever played and the first won by the men in sky blue. For the return bout, Maroons coach Arthur Beetson gambled by including Rod Morris – then in the twilight of his career – and a young debutant in Miles. Morris was man of the match and Miles went on to have a glittering career for Queensland and Australia. “You’ve got to remember, just getting a trip to Brisbane was a novelty for us,” said Brentnall. “Aside from that, the furthest we went for a game was Penrith. So, for the first two years, we probably didn’t prepare as seriously as we could have. They were just exhibition games. By 1982, with a Kangaroo Tour at the end of the year, we probably treated it a bit more seriously and knew what was on the line.” Myles and Brentnall toured together with the Invincibles at the end of ’82. “I got him with a pretty good shot on our line but with his size, he still went over,” Brentnall says. “I did a function on the Thursday night down at the Gold Coast and they just kept playing it over and over again, this young kid going right over the top of me.”

#2 QUEENSLAND 5 NEW SOUTH WALES 4 at Lang Park, May 20 1992

ALLAN Langer’s field goal secured the Maroons victory after the Blues won the opening game at the Sydney Football Stadium 14-6. But time does unpredictable things to the memory and Maroons centre Mark Coyne has different recollections of the evening to the rest of us. “It was me who flicked the ball out for Billy Moore to score and that was the night he did the magic finger,” Coyne says, in reference to a famous picture of the Queensland lock, pointing to the sky after a touchdown. “After Alf (Langer) kicked the field goal, we got the ball back from the short kick-off and for the rest of the game, Alf and Kevvy (Walters) were telling me they were going to do a chip over the top and to be ready for it. I’m going ‘what are they thinking?” When they game was over they said to be ‘gotcha’. It was all a gee-up”. Coyne was in the Maroons’ sheds after game one this year and is convinced Queensland can again level the series, as they did 21 years ago. “The boys were very disappointed in themselves, that they couldn’t match NSW’s attitude and enthusiasm,” he said. “If you’re one-down in an Origin series, there’s no place you’d rather be than Lang Park.”

#3 NEW SOUTH WALES 28 QUEENSLAND 10 at Suncorp Stadium, May 24 2000

“WE looked at t as a chance to make history,” says NSW five-eighth Scott Hill recalls now. Little did Hill and the 2000 Blues know, they would 13 years later remain the only side from south of the border to go to Brisbane one-up in a series and win. The middle game that year is actually the least-remembered of the three. In the first encounter, Gorden Tallis was dismissed for calling referee Bill Harrigan a cheat. In the third, NSW won 56-16 and celebrated with theatrical post-try celebrations, which motivate Queensland teams to this day. “I think you’ve just got to isolate yourself from things you can’t control,” says Hill. “You can’t control the crowd, you can’t control how Queensland play. But the field is the same size as other fields and they don’t have more players than you. This team, I think they just need to take confidence from what they did in game one. They gave Queensland enough ball to win the game but they held them out. Mitchell Pearce, to me, had an ‘only just’ game. He can improve. He still hasn’t proven he’s a genuine Origin halfback but there’s no better stage to do that than an Origin game in Brisbane. And I think the age of the Queensland team has started to show”. The 2000 series has been Hill’s one comeback to neighbours since moving to Queensland from London four years ago. “I always say ‘remember 2000? We had a pretty fair team….”

#4 QUEENSLAND 26 NEW SOUTH WALES 18 at ANZ Stadium (Brisbane), June 5 2002.

IF you think NSW are riding a wave of hype after game one this year, imagine what it was like 11 years ago when the Blues won the opening game 32-4 with young fullback Brett Hodgson running 390 metres! On form, the New South Welshmen were tipped to win Origin II in a canter. “If you’re 1-0 down in a series, you just hope the next game is at home,” the Maroons captain and tryscorer in their win at ANZ Stadium (Brisbane), Gorden Tallis, reflects. “One-nil is fine … well, it’s not fine but if you’re home in the second game it’s a big advantage. The other team knows they only have to win one more game and that plays on their minds a bit, you are desperate.” This game is remembered for Justin Hodges’ horror debut, in which he made a couple of errors leading to tries and ended up driving home to Sydney and missing training with the Roosters after he was hooked during the match. But generally speaking, says Tallis, in these situations: “It’s the young guys who come through and surprise you, the guys no-one expects to be in the team. They come out and do the job.”

#5 QUEENSLAND 22 NEW SOUTH WALES 18 at Suncorp Stadium, July 16 2004

MATT Gidley says the Blues will go close to winning the series next Wednesday if they can replicate the performance his side put in, facing the same situation, nine years ago. Having won the first game with an unforgettable Shaun Timmins field goal, NSW were faced with an injury crisis in the second match, forcing coach Phil Gould to bring Brad Fittler out of representative retirement for the remainder of the series. The move didn’t immediately bear fruit, given the four-point defeat in Brsibane. “I think you’ll find we played quite well,” said centre Gidley. Indeed, it took one of the all time greatest Origin tries, with Billy Slater chasing Darren Lockyer’s kick, chipping ahead again, and regathering to dot down, for Queensland to get the points. “Phil Gould was criticised for leaving his place on the sideline early,” said Gidley. “His response was that he wanted to get an early start on game three. Well, the proof was in the pudding because we won game three and the series.” Indeed they did, 36-14.

#6 QUEENSLAND 30 NEW SOUTH WALES 6 at Suncorp Stadium June 14 2006

CHRIS Flannery has played rugby league all around the world but Origins at Suncorp Stadium aren’t easily forgotten. Having been the selectors’ last resort in game one, NSW halfback Brett Finch went on to kick the winning field goal in Sydney. In game two, Queensland’s position was further eroded by the withdrawal through injury of Greg Inglis, with Adam Mogg taking his place. “I remember I put Carl Webb over for a try from the scrum base which worked perfectly,” says Flannery, who started off the bench. “Adam Mogg debuted and scored two…” According to Flannery, a home team 1-0 down in an Origin series almost always has an advantage. “Especially coming to Queensland,” he says. “The crowd obviously lifts you and as a player and you know that if you don’t win this game the series is over so there’s definitely a lot more desperation from the team down 1-0.” Now a Sunshine Coast real estate agent after finishing up at St Helens last year, Flannery will be hosting some corporate from his old club the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.

#7 QUEENSLAND 30 NEW SOUTH WALES 0 at Suncorp Stadium, June 11 2008

YOU can train too hard in Origin camp, according to a veteran of the most recent time NSW went to Queensland one-up in the series and came away empty handed. “We put a fair bit of work into our build-up and I don’t know if we were flat on the night,” says NSW interchange forward Steve Simpson, of the game that followed an 18-10 Blues victory first up. “It was a big build-up, I’d only been back playing a couple of weeks and for one reason or another, I didn’t feel 100 per cent. It wasn’t our best performance.” Queensland made a host of changes after their first-up loss. Darren Lockyer was still missing, they brought in Dairus Boyd and benched Billy Slater in favour of Karmichael Hunt while Scott Prince came into the halves. “Hopefully the boys can go up there this time feeling fresh and get the job done,” says Simpson, who now works in the Hunter Valley mines. “I think they can. Their debutants went really well in the first game and they can take some confidence from that.” In 2008, NSW made seven changes for game three and were beaten 16-10.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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