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At the conclusion of Origin I, former NSW fullback Garry Jack claimed that the Queensland forwards were a bunch of ?creampuffs?. If I was Jack, I would not only retract that statement after seeing Origin II, but I would also reverse the statement and claim that the NSW forwards played like ?creampuffs?. That?s certainly what it looked like from where I was sitting?
And what about the farcical efforts of NSW halves Braith Anasta and Brett Finch? Finch?s effort in particular made Brett Kimmorley?s Game I performance last year look like a competent one. I must say that I watched the game at the pub, and knew that the pair had performed poorly but the extent of the performance didn?t hit me until I sat down at home and tuned in to 2GB.
Caller after caller were laying into the pair for an hour on end. It really was a golden hour of radio. 2GB decided to play back highlights of its match coverage. Darryl Brohman produced a quote that I have never heard about a pair of halves before. ?Someone please get this pair off the field! They?re embarrassing the State?.
I was then informed that State of Origin?s Triple J callers, Roy and HG, were labeling the pair as ?dumb and dumber? for the whole night.
I think we?ve had our fun. The important thing now is for the NSW selectors to pick a completely different halves combination. And we can safely assume that Anasta and Finch won?t be playing State of Origin again anytime soon.
But we can?t lay the blame squarely on the halves? shoulders. NSW supposedly boasted a superior forward pack to the Maroons, but were smashed from pillar to post. The likes of Petero Civoniceva, Nate Myles and Carl Webb were far too strong for their NSW counterparts, Willie Mason, Mark O?Meley and Luke Bailey.
Full credit to the Maroons who were under immense pressure in the build-up to this game. Some were even scared that a NSW victory last Wednesday night would spell the death of Origin, but we can now thankfully report that Origin has been found alive and well. The Queensland halves controlled the game much better; credit must go to Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston in that regard. Also, what a debut for Canberra?s Adam Mogg! He certainly silenced the ?Adam Who?? headlines which circled the media early in the week with a stunning two-try effort.
Now we go to the Telstra Dome in Melbourne on July 5 to determine the State of Origin winners for 2006. And I must say the tide has turned. Queensland will go into this match with no pressure whatsoever and given that NSW only won their match by one point, compared with Queensland?s margin of 24 last week, all of a sudden the Blues have it all to prove as we head south of the Murray for the decider.
With Origin analysed, we?ll now take a look at how the NRL season is drifting along after 15 rounds of the premiership.
I must say first up that the Roosters have been the biggest disappointment of any team this season. It feels like only yesterday when I picked up various media publications and read experts? predictions hearing how the Roosters would turn things around with such promising purchases like Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison. The scary thing is, on paper the Roosters are such a strong side but they haven?t looked like threatening the opposition defence with the ball in-hand. I guess there?s only one way to turn when you have the personnel but are failing to produce results, and that?s to point the finger squarely in the direction of Ricky Stuart. And I get the feeling there?s a few Roosters supporters out there who agree entirely.
Anyway, I think I?ve said enough. Their position on the ladder really does speak for itself.
To the other end of the scale, just how good is the current Melbourne Storm side? You do wonder why Ricky Stuart is appointed Australian coach ahead of someone of the calibre of Craig Bellamy. He?d certainly be my pick for that role at the moment. I am really looking forward to their Friday night clash against the Bulldogs this weekend.
This will be a great way to gauge how far Melbourne has come this season. The Bulldogs have traditionally troubled the Storm because of the big boppers they boast up front, but I think Melbourne will be able to handle it this time around. The Bulldogs have been a hoodoo club for Melbourne but I think a Storm victory on Friday night could signal a changing of the guard in that particular rivalry.
The Bulldogs are still superior in the forwards but I think Melbourne is now capable of handling that sort of early assault. If they can do just that, I think they will outlast the Bulldogs in other facets of the game. They have a more potent backline and halves with more cohesion. Scott Hill and Cooper Cronk look far more dangerous at the moment than the Bulldogs? pairing of Daniel Holdsworth and Brent Sherwin, who still hasn?t found his spark after an 18-month form slump.
I?m expecting a Storm victory and I think this will definitely announce their arrival as a premiership force, if that hasn?t already been announced.
It will be a terrific game on Friday night. Be sure to get the mates around for a few cold ones and put the world cup on hold for just a couple of hours.
Until next week, enjoy your footy!