State of Origin 2020: Queensland stuns NSW to take game one
In Wayne we trust.
Courageous Queensland last night produced the greatest boilover in 25 years as coach Wayne Bennett's Babes stunned NSW 18-14 to conjure an Origin miracle in the City of Churches. Before 25,218 fans in Origin's first game in South Australia, the injury-ravaged Maroons overcame game-day drama, a dismal first-half and a 10-0 deficit to draw first blood in the series opener. Reeling at halftime, the underdog Maroons sensationally hit back after the break, with three tries in 16 minutes to AJ Brimson, Xavier Coates and Cameron Munster sealing an epic Blues upset. This was meant to be a Blues bloodbath.
The Maroons were so depleted they were forced to blood eight debutants as coach Bennett turned to a band of youngbloods to uphold Queensland's Origin legacy. But just as he did in 2001, when Bennett debuted 10 players in Queensland's famous series win, the super coach dusted off a two-decades old playbook riven with Maroon spirit, belief and courage. The Maroons were awful in the first half as the Blues bolted to a 10-0 lead, but Bennett's Babes - version 2.0 - showed nerves of steel to clinch another famous Queensland fightback.
If the Maroons can beat the Blues in Game Two in Sydney next Wednesday night to deny NSW a third straight series win, it will re-affirm Bennett as the super coach. YOUNG TALENT TIME Queensland's first-timers Brimson, Coates, Kurt Capewell, Phillip Sami, Jake Friend, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Lindsay Collins and Jaydn Su'A were superb in the Origin cauldron. Not one debutant failed to handle the heat. Makeshift centre Capewell was outstanding, producing a superb bust and chip kick for Brimson's 50th-minute try to ignite Queensland's second-half fightback.
Battling a groin injury, Capewell was on one leg for the final 25 minutes. Collins charged with his usual gusto, Sami ran for 115 metres from the wing, Brimson was busy, Big Tino was all heart and 19-year-old winger Coates was magnificent.
SPEED KILLS The Maroons were blown off the park by NSW's up-tempo style in the first half. The Blues were as quick and slick as a Ferrari. Queensland were as cumbersome as a Sherman tank. The underdog Maroons had opportunities to put points on the Blues in the opening quarter, but their offensive shapes were slow and reeked of a team still developing combinations. Both of NSW's tries were a by-product of the Maroons' inability to handle Cook's sizzling incursions and the quick shifts ignited by Nathan Cleary, Luke Keary, James Tedesco and Clint Gutherson. Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans' woeful missed penalty goal in the 10th minute - shanking an attempt from in front 26 metres out - summed up Queensland's listless first half.
Queensland's injury-plagued build-up suffered another blow on game day when a shattered Brenko Lee was forced to withdraw in the warm-up. Having strained his calf at training 24 hours earlier, Lee was given the green light to play by Maroons medicos, only for his right leg to tighten up again following the flight to Adelaide. Lee was sensationally ordered to do a fitness test just hours before kick-off. He could barely take off. Game over. With Lee's dream debut in tatters, the Maroons issued an SOS for fellow rookie Sami.
Dane Gagai and Jake Friend were inspirational. Gagai amassed 118 metres, three tackle busts, a try assist and defended superbly at right centre, while Friend was heroic. The veteran hooker made 52 tackles, more than double the next Maroons teammate. Friend's Origin debut was 12 years in the making. His courage personified the never-say-die spirit of Bennett's Maroons
IT'S OVER: MAROONS WIN! HUGE! The Nevilles are back! Queensland wins 18-14 after a massive second half comeback!!!
TRY: CAMERON MUNSTER: The Maroons are in again!!! Daniel Tupou makes a lazy offload midfield, Nathan Cleary then tries to pick it up but taps it towards the Maroons end of the field. Cameron Munster chases it and has a clear field to the try despite a valiant tackle effort from Damien Cook from behind. This. Is. Unbelievable. And DCE converts a monster! NSW - 10 QLD - 18
TRY: AJ BRIMSON: The Maroons are back in it!!! Kurt Capewell the real hero as he palms off Clint Gutherson then gallops away like a giant. Gets the awkward kick away and Brimson runs on to it to score in his Origin debut! DCE converts! It's ON. NSW - 10 QLD - 6
BACK AND FORTH: We're five minutes into the second half and it's just back and forths on the sixth tackle at the moment.It's all very friendly. Nathan Cleary made a kicking mistake and got a nice tap on the shoulder from a Maroons player. Gus Gould said some nice things about Xavier Coates. Every chance a blue and maroon rainbow arcs over Adelaide Oval any minute now.
HALFTIME: The Blues have the polish but the Maroons certainly haven't been embarrassed, they just haven't taken advantage of some early dominance. Mistakes aplenty on both sides of the ball - which is to be expected after a few weeks off - but so far it's been a quick sort of game rather than the bruising encounters we're used to. To recap - Boyd Cordner off with concussion but somehow passes his HIA, Cameron Murray looks done for possibly a while with a knee injury, and The Foxx and The Cook are on the board for NSW. And try to avoid USA election news. Things are … things are not good. NSW 10 - QLD 0
INJURY: CAMERON MURRAY Another injury for the Blues and it's an absolute shocker. Cameron Murray's knee gets bent under him in a tackle. Somehow he tries to run it off but the knee keeps giving way. He came on for Cordner. Good start on the scoreboard, bad start on the bench for NSW. They're down to 15 men.
TRY: JOSH ADDO-CARR Uh oh! The Fox is on the board! Cleary to Tedesco to Gutherson and Addo-Carr scores in the corner. Bad communication on defence between Fa'asuamaleaui and Capewell and the Blues veterans take advantage of the new boys. Nathan Cleary misses the conversion. NSW 10 QLD 0
TRY: DAMIEN COOK
Damien Cook scores the first try of the match! Puts the kick in on the sixth tackle and it ricochets off the leg of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui right back into Cook's arms. He falls over the line and Nathan Cleary takes the conversion successfully. We're on the board! NSW 6 QLD 0
AND WE ARE PLAYING
The Maroons kick-off and it's immediately knocked on by the Blues! Damien Cook muffs it and Queensland is on the attack straight away!
It was a controversial decision to cancel the anthem … then bring it back. Rachael Leahcar has the duties and the vast majority of players are signing it, while a few stand stoically in silence, which is their right. Imagine it won't be cancelled again any time soon though.
The game ball has been delivered in the traditional method of a man falling from the sky with orange smoke pouring out of his ankle. Welcome to Country has also been delivered, always an important touch. The players are still in the rooms. I'd argue we're a long shot for the 7.10pm/8.10pm kick-off.
STEFANOVIC V GOULD
Gus very poetic about coaching young players in big games. Then he forgot the word what the word 'scarf' means.
- KS - How do you get a team ready, with so many young players, to take on the mammoth task that is Origin?
- PG - My one feeling is for debut players. I've had teams with five or six debut players, and it's to say were you born to be here. We don't pick you for this job unless we believe you can do it. We only pick certain types of footballers to play in this arena, to play at this intensity. So it's just convincing them their best is good enough. We just need your best, we don't need anything more. We don't need to you suddenly turn into supermen, we need you to bring everything you bring every week in the NRL, and believe in yourself and believe in your teammates. There has to be a real togetherness out there. So you are not alone. We are all in this together. We will play together and stick by each other. That helps the young fellas settle into it. As the game wears on experience is going to play a big part no doubt. But getting them ready for the contest, not overcoaching them too much, that's important
- KS - Beautifully said. I almost like you.
- PG - Almost. Where is your maroon thingy that you wear over here (points to Karl's shoulders) - that scarfy thing.
The Blues are coming in at $1.30 at the moment, with the Maroons are paying $3.60. And first tryscorer? It's all about NSW.
- $7.50 - Josh Addo-Carr
- $8 - Daniel Tupou
- $12 - Jack Wighton
- $12 - James Tedesco
- $13 - Xavier Coates
- $14 - Phillip Sami
- $15 - Clint Gutherson
- $15 - Dane Gagai
STEFANOVIC v BENNETT
It's Frost v Nixon stuff on Channel 9 right now as Wayne Bennett is interviewed by Maroons diehard Karl Stefanovic.
- KS - Lovely to see you how was the trip down
- WB - Pretty good. Left early but the flight was good and we have been in a good motel, so it all worked out well
- KS - How are the lads all feeling?
- WB - I think they will be getting nervous by now. Particularly the first timers. But nothing will resolve that for them until they get on the field and make their first tackle and first run
- KS - Do you get nervous?
- WB - Yes.
- KS - What about?
- WB - Outcomes. How the boys play. Don't want to let anybody down
- KS - How do you prepare such a young side for running out on Origin?
- WB - Try to convince them they are not playing Origin.
- KS - How do you do that?
- WB - I will let you know at full-time.
MAROONS' INJURY SHOCK
It looks like Brenko Lee's Origin dream may be over before it begins. Lee, who had been cleared to play after hurting himself at training, has limped off Adelaide Oval before the game has even begun. Shattering for Brenko and Maroons fans.
NSW EXPECTED TO WIN
Bookmakers have installed the Blues as hot $1.34 favourites to win a third straight Origin series, but coach Wayne Bennett scoffed at suggestions the Maroons would lose 3-0.
This is Queensland's greatest challenge since 1995, when the Paul Vautin-coached Maroons - dubbed "Neville Nobodies" - overcame the loss of star Super League-aligned players to beat NSW 3-0 in the greatest upset in Origin history.
"I have faith in the quality of players here," Bennett said.
"We believe we have picked the best players we can and after that, I have to give them confidence to get the job done. What the critics or NSW want to say has no relevance to me."