State of Origin is not a beauty contest. Fortunately

It’s usual for a famous Origin victory to be sealed by crashing across an opponent’s try line, not scurrying behind your own so the mean men in maroon can’t have the ball. The Blues’ fullback proved last night that while regular aeroplanes might not work in reverse, Hayne Planes certainly do.

But we NSW supporters will take the win that Jarryd Hayne’s strategic retreat – and of course his try saving tackle on Sam Thaiday – secured.

In fact, the Blues would have taken pretty much anything that sealed Origin 2014 on home soil, and not required us to travel north for a decider at that cauldron of northern – well, I’m not going to say “hate”, but only because it doesn’t seem strong enough a word for tens of thousands of seething Queenslanders.

And take it we did after what was surely one of the most lacklustre games in the series for many years. Stole it, really, since neither team played like the champions of Origins past. For long periods, neither team managed to do much when they had the ball, simply mucking around for a bit and then yielding the ball via a handling error or lacklustre kick.

Many Origin games are packed with of moments of explosive brilliance – this one was a grind, and a coarse one at that. The NRL’s recent (and welcome) crackdown on punching stopped the game turning into an out-and-out brawl, and instead things remained simmering throughout, almost arcing up with two minutes to spare.

But we’ll take it, because after eighty minutes the series scoreboard said 2-0.

At half-time, this result was far from guaranteed. Queensland led by two penalties scored by the record-setting boot of JoHnatHon Thurston, a kicker so dependable that his parents included a pair of uprights in his name.

The usual feeling of dread set in as I waited for the second half to begin. Queenslanders, whether footballers or prime ministers, are somehow born with a congenital belief in their ability to make a comeback, and the Maroons have done it time and extra time again.

But still, I kept consoling myself with the maths. A converted try would do it. And it did; oh, how it did. One burst of ingenuity from Trent Hodkinson who crossed the line and then somehow nervelessly converted his own try.

And somehow, the Blues held on, helped by Queensland obligingly turning the ball over on several key occasions. Had to happen eventually.

At the end of the game, I didn’t feel jubilation. You couldn’t, really, after a win like that. I didn’t want to send abusive texts to every Queenslanders I know, as I confess I may have done in the past. After all, it’s still eight-two in the past decade.

What I felt was beautiful relief. We hadn’t choked or stuffed up or yielded yet another Queensland comeback. And we had kept the Maroon stars who had tormented us for so long tryless.

The history books – or, nowadays, the history Wikis – won’t record the exact nature of the game, probably because all existing copies of the first 70 minutes will be locked in a vault marked “FOR INSOMNIAC USE ONLY”.

What they will record is that NSW have won an Origin series for the first time since 2005. To put it in perspective, Bob Carr was premier then, and we’ve had five others since.


Which is one more point than Queensland scored.

A decisive victory is a wonderful thing, and so is an elegant one. But an ugly victory is still a victory. And after eight painful years, we’ll take it.

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