State of Origin Ratings – Game Two, 2017

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at 2017.06.22
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New South Wales had won the first game and therefore went into Game 2 with the opportunity to wrap up the series in front of 82,000 fans.

Did they take it?

Ha ha ha. No, of course not.

Here are the ratings from the second State of Origin.

Chat Groups
Grade: B+

Victory in the first game had many claiming that it was the end of the Queensland dynasty. Needless to say, this upset a lot of the Maroon FOGs (Former Origin Greats), COGs (Current Origin Greats) and TOP GUNs (Technically Origin Players – Greats? Uh, No).

Queensland player logs into chat group in State of Origin Game Two, 2017

Queensland player logs into chat group in State of Origin Game Two, 2017

Where did they express their rage at these claims? Why, in their own private chat group, of course. Now, it’s unclear which former player possesses the intellectual prowess to set up a chat group, but it’s probably safe to assume it wasn’t Billy Moore. Or, indeed, anybody who’d ever taken a hit-up into marauding defence when hard yards were needed. So, y’know, maybe Sam Thaiday?

Regardless, I’d love to get a glimpse into this chat group. Or, at the very least, see a word map of what they talk about. The word ‘Queenslander’ would presumably be very large. Probably followed closely by ‘Queenslader’. And then various misspellings of ‘maroon’.

Still, the point is that the chat group apparently got very heated about this ‘end of the Queensland dynasty’ thing. Luckily, peacemaking New South Wales captain Boyd ‘Mr Robot’ Cordner was able to hack in to the chat and apologise.

Pre-Game Shows
Grade: C-

But despite Cordner’s efforts to make peace, there was still one group who wanted to talk up the animosity between the two teams.

The Channel Nine commentary team, now made up of over 1400 experts (and Brad Fittler) offered their thoughts. Ray ‘Ribs’ Warren opined that the series was on a knife edge – always a very dangerous and silly place to play a game of rugby league.

Phil ‘Goose’ Gould sought to dazzle us with GPS stats on how far and fast everybody ran in the first game. He did well for a while, but then the numbers (or ‘the devil’s squiggles’ as rugby league players prefer to call them) got away from him.

Paul ‘Fathead’ Vautin declared that the word on the street was that the game would be won by defence. Or, if not defence, then attack for sure. Darren ‘Lackie’ Lockyer seemed to forget the names of most of the players he’d selected for the game. Andrew ‘Josie’ Johns went missing, only to be eventually found deep inside a Bundaberg Rum Analyser.

And I’m pretty sure at one point Mark ‘Mark’ Nicholas showed up to advise us that a Cooper Cronk was, in fact, a specialised kitchen sink ratchet patented by Thomas Edison in 1912.

Billy Slater
Grade: C

But eventually after a Grinspoon concert (handy anagram: ‘poor sing’n’), further pre-game musings and the national anthems (both Australia and Queensland), the game began.

Billy Slater was back for the Maroons and he made his presence felt almost immediately. A wonderful tumbling effort drew a penalty that eventually led to a Queensland try. The kid’s still got it.

Even as a New South Welshman, it’s hard to begrudge Slater’s return, especially when you consider the upside of how unhappy being forced to move to the centres makes Darius Boyd.

New South Wales’ First Half
Grade: D

Despite Queensland’s early try, the first half belonged to the Blues. They struck back almost immediately when smart backline passing put Jarryd Hayne over. Boyd Cordner immediately apologised to Cameron Smith for the try.

But then Hayne’s try was followed shortly after by further tries to Brett Morris and Mitchell Pearce, and Cordner’s apologies began to come across as sarcastic.

With New South Wales up 16-6, Queensland desperately needed somebody to push Billy Slater over again. Surely Johnathan Thurston would be the man for the job. But while Thurston threw everything at the Blues (including, in one particularly clumsy piece of play, a badly out of position Will Chambers), desperate New South Wales defence continued to hold them at bay.

In the final set before halftime, Jake Trbojevic pulled off a vital try-saving tackle, much to the annoyance of those of us who now realised we’d have to look up how to spell his name. Thankfully, Josh Dugan pulled off an equally good try-saver on the next play, meaning we could focus on that instead. Great team effort from the Blues.

Dystopian Societies
Grade: D

But, of course, it couldn’t last. Queensland were just ten points behind, and as the second half wore on, the momentum began to shift in their favour. A converted try to Dane Gagai in the 53rd minute reduced the margin to four points. In theory, New South Wales were still in front, but we all knew the Maroons had them right where they wanted them.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the 41 years since Cameron Smith and his mates began their reign of Origin terror, a small lead is fatal for the Blues. Like a toddler walking a Great Dane, clinging to a lead is something they simply can’t do.

And so, with three minutes remaining, Gagai inevitably went over again to score. Thurston therefore had the conversion to win the game, giving Phil Gould an opportunity to muse about how if you wanted somebody to kick a goal to save your life, Thurston would be your man.

Come on, Gus. How would kicking a goal to save your life even work? What kind of horrific dystopian hellscape future are you envisioning here?

No, seriously. Give me the details. I’ve got three weeks to work out if it’s worse than the one where Thurston farewells State of Origin by leading Queensland to a come-from-behind 2-1 series victory.

(Originally published at http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/06/22/the-liebke-ratings-state-of-origin-2/)

State of Origin Ratings - Game One, 2017
State of Origin Ratings - Game Three, 2017

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