The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The sixth annual 'battle of Saint Patrick's day' took place at the new venue for Ruby League of Savannah, Georgia on the eve of St Patrick's day. Savannah has a tradition of holding a huge St Patrick's day parade, often attracting 400,000 spectators, and associated events, so it was a 'natural fit' for the annual match between USA and Ireland to be moved to the city. The game was somewhat hastily organised when foxsports asked that it be played this year after an original proposal was made for the city to host the game next year by local organiser David Cox, who is also responsible for forming a new organisation named 'Georgia Rugby League', and has plans to launch a competition in Georgia. The game attracted a crowd of 2000 very rowdy and appreciative fans, almost all of whom were new to the game. The new fans commented on the big hits and toughness of the game, but were most impressed by the speed and frequency of action, one fan commenting "I don't know how these guys hang in there. It looks like roughhousing. You can't really tell unless you're using your binoculars that they're rubbing their faces in the ground. They're pretty rough out there." The Tomahawks showed the benefit of their recent trip to Australia in winning the game. Convert from college American football, Nate Smith, in only his 5th game of Rugby League, the other four being on the Australian tour, scored two tries and was a standout player in the game. One of his tries saw the big prop burst through the line and sprint 45 metres to score. The Americans blew the scoreline out by scoring three times in the last 10 minutes, demonstrating the fitness they have gained by playing games such as a trial against the Canberra Raiders in recent weeks. The Irish took this game seriously after losing the last two in a row, and they held a selection match some weeks ago between Irish based and English based players so as to bring the best possible amatuer squad. It seems they may have to look at professional players next time if they hope to overcome the rapidly improving Tomahawks. The tally now stands at 4 games to 2 in favour of the Tomahawks after six 'battles of Saint Patrick's day', with the Tomahawks having won the last three in a row. The scoreline margin in this game was the biggest ever in the series.
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