Game 1 of State of Origin 2014 was won and lost last night at Lang Park. It was an exciting game of rugby league and, as hard as it is for me to say it, the best side won. Here are my talking points from Game 1:
1. No Fighting: yep … the new laws did take away from the contest
After Paul Gallen’s thug punch in the same game last year the NRL / ARL introduced laws that banned punching with the punishment being an immediate sin binning. There were a poultice of moments in last nights game that would have, ordinarily, lead to an all in brawl. It did not happen and I for one thought the game was lacking for it.
2. Cooper Cronk: more important to Queensland than Jonathan Thurston
Cooper Cronk broke his arm in the 9th minute and after that Queensland looked bereft of ideas in attack. Cherry-Evans was solid but looked behind the pace and as though he had not run in the top team much during practice. Cronk’s kicking game was missed as was his calmness in difficult situations.
3. The Brent Tate tackle: Josh Reynolds must be suspended
There is no way to sugar coat it: Reynolds has to be suspended. The usual discount for State of Origin indescretions must not apply to this tackle, particularly if the NRL / ARL are serioius about rubbing out this type of tackle.
4. Aidan Guerra must start game 2
The Queensland back row was bested somewhat easily by their counterparts. The back rower from Queensland who was best on the night game of the bench in the form of Aidan Guerra. He was forceful in defence and ran strongly in attack. With Sam Thaiday also likely to return the Queensland back row only improves with Guerra’s inclusion in the run on.
5. Can Paul Gallen just shut up?
I wrote last year about the lamenteous conduct of Paul Gallen in the first State of Origin (https://shumpty77.com/2012/06/04/what-ever-happened-to-the-umpires-always-right-a-sports-fans-lament/ ). Nothing has changed: every decision of the referees last night that were slightly against the men in blue and even neutral decisions were met with Paul Gallen getting the face of the men making the decisions. It is neither a good look nor is it good for the game. Just shut up Paul!!!
Game 2 is in three weeks time and Queensland will win. Enough said.