Today Sam Bourke takes a look at the optimism in the water out Bondi way, as the Sydney Roosters loo...
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With the Origin series sealed up by the Queensland Maroons side last week, the Hills Hoist will focus on the history of Origin. We're nearing the end of the 30th duration of State Of Origin, there have been many ups and downs for the greatest contest in the sporting world.
Forgotten Faces A former Origin player, multi-premiership winner and club coach. He made his Origin debut in the second game of the 1984 series, a savage 14-2 loss to the Maroons. A few years later he scored tries in each of the first two games in the 1986 series, famous for being the first ever Origin whitewash. He was also a part of the 1988 World Cup winning side.
In the club scene, he played in three premiership winning teams in one of the great club sides of the modern era, the mid to late 80's Canterbury-Bankstown outfit. In the following years he had little success to cherish with Western Suburbs and Illawarra. He also had a stint with Wigan for two seasons, winning the Challenge Cup, the Championship, the Lancashire Cup, the Regal Trophy, the Charity Shield and the Premiership during the time spent. Not a bad list of trophies for the famed Wigan outfit in a small amount of time!
In the coaching area he had little success with Illawarra and the eventual merger in St George Illawarra. He is remembered for being a consistent centre in, as previously mentioned, one of the great club sides of the modern era.
That face, is of course, Andrew Farrar.
On This Day - 2nd July In 2008 Queensland matched the three consecutive series wins that New South Wales had achieved earlier in the decade with a series-sealing 16-10 triumph at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Israel Folau was the hero of the match, scoring two tries. It is the first time since 1998, and just the second time overall that the Queenslanders sealed the series in a deciding third match in Sydney.
Top Ten We continue the Origin theme with a look at the Top Ten Origin Matches. These ones are the ones remembered for being nail biting, memorable and tough. These weren't the best performances by one side, such as the thirty and forty point wins, but the ones that showed the most Origin fight and the most Origin spirit.
10 - 2004 Game One - New South Wales 9 defeated Queensland 8 The controversial Golden Point rule was activated a year earlier and the opening match of the 2004 series in Sydney went completely down to the wire. With the scores locked up at 8-all, and Craig Gower being completely shut down by the powerful Queensland forwards it took a field goal from the unlikely Shaun Timmins to seal the match.
9 - 1987 Game One - New South Wales 20 defeated Queensland 16 This match was most remembered for the controversial omission of the talented Sydney Roosters halfback Laurie Spina. Instead the Maroons chose to play tiny Ipswich Jets unknown halfback Allan Langer. The doubters went silent as 20 year old Langer combined well with Lewis. The match nearly also became the first Origin draw but with moments remaining a decision by referee Mick Stone to award a try to Mark McGaw (without the assistance of a replay and with plenty of elements of doubt) gave the Blues a memorable win. Luckily for Stone, the decision turned out to be correct.
8 - 2004 Game Two - Queensland 22 defeated New South Wales 18 Phil Gould made a masterpiece coaching play, sending Brad Fittler out of representative retirement to lead the Blues from the front in this encounter. A horrid injury curse to most of the top class Blues halfbacks enabled Fittler's club halves partner Brett Finch to debut alongside his captain. However the appearance of Fittler in a Blues jersey was nothing compared to "that try" scored by Billy Slater in just his second Origin appearance. Grabbing a grubber from captain Darren Lockyer, Billy chipped over fullback Anthony Minichiello and regathered to score possibly the greatest try in Origin history.
7 - 1998 Game One - Queensland 24 defeated New South Wales 23 In the first Origin match since the Super League aligned players left the representative series, this arm wrestle saw the Blues get up to a good lead early in the second half. A try to Steve Menzies gave them a 23-18 lead with moments left. With just a minute left on the clock the Queenslanders dug deep, especially five-eighth Kevin Walters, just months after the tragic death of his wife. Walters chipped to a regathering Ben Ikin to get the Maroons good field position and Walters was there moments later to send Tonie Carroll over and break the Blues hearts once more. The winning conversion was kicked by debutant Darren Lockyer.
6 - 2006 Game One - New South Wales 17 defeated Queensland 16 The Blues halfback woes were in full force. Craig Gower and Matt Orford both pulled out, leaving Brett Finch as halfback. The Queensland side, particularly looking brand new with seven debutants fought the hard battle after going into halftime with a 14-0 deficit. The Blues looked shaky, but a late field goal by Finch wearing the 20 jersey saw the home side take home a memorable victory.
5 - 1992 Game Two - Queensland 5 defeated New South Wales 4 Queensland dug deep in this one, early in the match prop Martin Bella and five-eighth Peter Jackson were both marched to the sin bin for back-chatting referee Bill Harrigan. However they stood their ground, and came up with the first points of the match just after the two had come back on. In fact, the Blues were left without a single try for the match.
4 - 1991 Game Three - Queensland 14 defeated New South Wales 12 This match was remembered for the encounter that farewelled Origin great Wally Lewis. The margin never grew over four points in a complete arm wrestle. During the last ten minutes it was announced it was Lewis' last match for Queensland, and the crowd rose. It all worked perfectly with Dale Shearer scoring the winning try late in the match. Mal Meninga converted from the sideline to enable the amazing pictures of Lewis walking around Lang Park with his two children.
3 - 1994 - Game One - Queensland 16 defeated New South Wales 12 The word "miracle" has been used in Rugby League quite a number of times. None of those miracles ever compared to this one. Trailing 12-4 with under five minutes left Willie Carne scored but the Blues enabled to defend well in the next set of six to tick the clock down. During the last minute Allan Langer shot a long ball to Kevin Walters. Walters then passed to Carne who threw over the top to Steve Renouf who raced up field. Half of the team then handled the ball as the Maroons kept coming closer and closer to the line but Mark Coyne took the winning one, shredding defenders Brad Fittler and Ricky Stuart to score what Ray Warren describes as, of course, a "miracle". The pictures of a crushed Fittler and an angry Stuart made victory all the better for the Queenslanders.
2 - 1991 - Game 2 - New South Wales 14 defeated Queensland 12 If an image was to ever come out from a State Of Origin match that would emphasise the passion and hate between the two sides, it would be the image of Maroons skipper Wally Lewis and Blues hitman Mark Geyer coming face to face. Half a dozen cautions were handed out to the two players as the half-time siren sounded, even whilst walking back to the sheds. Lewis continued to attack Geyer in an attempt to strike a violent reaction in front of referee David Manson. The reaction, and the hopeful send off never happened. When the dust settled, a late try to Mark McGaw levelled the scores and a sideline conversion by Michael O'Connor gave the Blues an amazing win.
1 - 1989 - Game 2 - Queensland 16 defeated New South Wales 12 We keep hearing about Origin spirit. This match showed the true Queenslander spirit in an act of bravery from the Maroons. During the first half the Maroons had lose Allan Langer, Mal Meninga and Paul Vautin for the match. After the break Michael Hancock was also lost and Bob Lindner decided to stay on the field after fracturing his ankle. He was forced to retire with five minutes left, leaving the Maroons with twelve men. But it never stopped the Maroons as they managed an amazing victory, their best in Sydney...really...their best ever.
Some amazing moments listed there. Maybe we'll see another one in a few weeks time. Go the Mighty Blues.