It was a game with a lot riding on it for both sides. NSW with the chance to win their first series since 2005 and QLD needing a win to keep the Origin series alive.
Heading into the clash, both camps were confident of a victory but it was the Queensland side that burst out of the blocks and had all the early running, scoring in just the 2nd minute through Sam Thaiday.
Whilst the focus should have been on the 26-6 win by QLD, it was instead a second-half brawl that has taken the shine off the win for the Maroons, with four players sin-binned as a result of the altercation.
With the NRL’s new hardline stance on fighting after the Paul Gallen and Nate Myles incident, when the biff occurred, the referees acted swiftly and decisively, sin-binning Justin Hodges, Greg Bird, Brent Tate and Trent Merrin.
Replays suggest that Trent Merrin and Justin Hodges were the only two to have thrown punches, though referees obviously thought otherwise as they sin-binned Tate and Bird also.
With both coaches insisting that the one punch and you go the bin rule be looked out and re-assessed, there was one very unhappy NSW captain after the game as a result of the incident.
“It’s embarrassing really, isn’t it?” Gallen said.
“The game has been so great for 108 years, for them (NRL) to change it …
“Origin is a tough game. No one goes out there to fight but sometimes that is the x-factor in the game.”
There was also another incident in-game, with Maroons fullback Billy Slater put on report for an elbow to the face of Mitchell Pearce in a tackle.
Post-game, it appears Slater supplements testosterone human growth hormone hgh was cleared with accidental contact and Origin duo Justin Hodges and Greg Bird are likely to escape bans.
Merrin may not be so lucky, with the St George Illawarra Dragons lock forward looking at a week on the sidelines.
With calls for the no-fighting decision to be reconsidered, Mal Meninga wants to see the rule changed but believes that fans should be the ones to make the decision on it.
“It’s a bit ridiculous to be honest with you,” he said of the sin bins.
“I know we are trying to clean the game up and we have certain responsibilities.
“Certainly Tatey didn’t deserve to be sent off for pushing someone.
“But at the end of the day it is a game of rugby league, and as an ex-player I find it silly the way the rule has gone.”
QLD captain Cam Smith was also critical, saying that a game of 11 players on 11 players is not what the fans want.
“It’s like touch footy really,” he said.
Although Laurie Daley thought sterner action should have been taken after Billy Slater’s elbow, he too urged NRL officials to reconsider the rule.
“I think what happened was our boys got riled because Mitchell copped an elbow off Billy and nothing happened (no binning),” he said.
“It’s a tough sport, things go astray. But no one goes out there to start a fight.”
The NSW coach was under no illusions about the game itself, though, admitting that the Maroons were by far the better side.
“Queensland were too good, no excuses, we move on. We’ve earned the right to go into game three,” Daley said.
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