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NSW clinched the 2006 State of Origin series last night with a commanding 26-12 victory in Game 2 at Suncorp Stadium and in doing so validated the media?s forecast that the concept is dead as a spectacle.
The Blues 4th straight series win has put the final nail in the coffin of this once engaging and ?not to be missed? event in the Rugby League calendar. Even in Queensland at the spiritual home of Origin, Lang Park, the Maroons failed to lift and their young charges wilted in the face of the big NSW pack. Timana Tahu and Brett Hodgson scored tries in the first 15 minutes giving the Blues a 10-0 lead and they were never headed to run out victors five tries to two.
Game 3 in Melbourne will now lack the glamour and excitement of a decider and the glorious 27 year lifespan of State of Origin football will, it appears, come to an uninspiring end.
The media?s campaign to convince us all that without a strong (and winning) Queensland team the concept was finished, has proven successful as there is already plans in place to stage a 3 Test Series between Australia and New Zealand during the 2007 NRL season to replace Origin. It appears the all time Origin greats such as Wally Lewis, Allan Langer and Mal Meninga for Queensland and Laurie Daley, Brett Kenny and Andrew Johns for NSW have had their era and it is time for Test football to reclaim its place on centre stage.
Okay clearly Queensland won convincingly last night and the 2006 Origin series will go to a decider in Melbourne, but don?t kid yourself for a moment if you think we would not have read a similar spiel in the newspapers today has NSW won. There?s no doubt a controversial headline sells papers but I doubt the media realises that some good old fashioned perspective on the issue would do the same from time to time.
The Maroons were simply superb last night, with one of the finest defensive displays by an Origin team in recent memory to completely stifle the Blues attack and go-forward. The Queensland forwards just smashed their bigger Blues counterparts and maintained an aggressive defensive intensity that lasted into the final 10 minutes of the game. The Maroons had a team full of heroes rather than a couple of standout stars (although Johnathan Thurston was my man of the match) and that has traditionally been the Queensland way.
But the best result of the night is we will get two weeks of relief from the media dribbling on about the ?death of Origin?? well at least until the result of Game 3 is decided. The basic reasoning for the call was that because Queensland couldn?t win a game, the concept was dated. But Queensland has not had a problem winning a game in the last three series they have lost; in fact they haven?t been held winless in a series since the 2000 Bluewash. In Game 1 2005 they won in Golden Point, in Game 2 of 2004 they won 22-18 and although they had lost the series by Game 3 in 2003 they smashed the Blues 36-6. So really all the Queenslanders haven?t been able to do is win a series in the last three years, but they haven?t had a problem winning a game. Strangely they aren?t the first team to lose three series in a row, but why would the media bother checking their facts before writing another dose of dribble to sell papers.
But the greatest factor in the longevity of Origin is that every time your state loses ? the feeling of utter disappointment and frustration you experience ensures you?ll be back in the lounge room with your friends for the next game hoping your state?s heroes can turn the tables and set everything right in the world for another 12 months at least.
So in a way when Queensland or NSW lose, it is those losses that keep the passion of the series so strong. Because when their team loses both sets of fans can?t wait until the next game to get a chance to bag their mates across the border about a (hopefully) different result.
Origin is alive and well; don?t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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