A night at the Opera

The fans at Telstra Stadium on Wednesday night, including myself, were treated to an unbelievable spectacle of State of Origin football, as the Blues clinched a thrilling one-point victory.

Prior to the 8pm kickoff, there was a resounding buzz in and around the ground as Blues fans flocked in numbers through the turnstiles, while Maroon guernseys were fairly seldom.

To add to the unnerving anticipation of the big clash, two men, dressed in a Blues and Maroons jumper respectively jumped out of a plane and parachuted their way onto the sacred State of Origin turf.

The match ball was placed in the centre of the ground with 10-minutes to kick-off. It was fittingly placed by a young boy named ?Bogan Campbell?. The name ?Bogan? truly epitomises the Australian culture that is entrenched within State of Origin football.

With the loss of injured stars Matt Cooper and Craig Gower before the match, there was a certain aura around the ground, which encompassed lack of expectation from all NSW fans.

When replacement half-back Brett Finch snuck over for the first four-pointer during the early stages of the match, the crowd were sent into raptures. The echoing roar was seemingly amplified as a result of the lack of expectation. The Blues forward pack continued to assert their dominance, before Matt King slid over in the corner to send the crowd into party mode.

The roar from the crowd for the King try was equally as deafening as the Finch try, although as Willie Mason barged his way across the line in the 22nd minute the thunderous crowd of 72,773 seemed to lower their voice.

The crowd, perhaps fearful of a one-sided affair, or the death of Origin, were in a state of shock, as the Blues had raced out to a 14-0 lead at the break, although it very well could have been 18-0 had Brett Hodgson slotted his first two conversions.

The first try to Melbourne?s star winger Greg Inglis did little to quell the workings of the Mexican wave, as the four-pointer was seen purely as some sort of consolation for the Maroons.

Inglis touched down for the second time with only eight minutes remaining to cut the deficit back to six points, which pushed the crowd to the edge of their seats.

Steve Bell then slid over for the Maroons, and when Jonathon Thurstan slotted the conversion the small Queensland contingent within the crowd went wild.

The dreaded, eerie feeling of a draw began to sink in, only before Finch booted a field goal to clinch a very memorable victory by one point, and to send the crowd into oblivion.

Blues fans partied hard into the night at nearby pubs, while Maroons fans were left to ponder what could?ve been.


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