80,512 fans, a full house, to watch the first game of the 2022 Origin series; Queensland v New South Wales. 

The two sides have been etched in rivalry for years, decades, and to this day, the anger and hatred towards the other remains.

Although Cameron Munster was rightfully deemed man of the match, it was teammate Harry Grant and two debutants that also shone.

Those two debutants were Patrick Carrigan and Reuben Cotter who have proven they will be the crux of the Maroons middle for years to come.

As the first ten minutes proved to be the dogfight we all expected, it was the Blues who eventually opened the scoring.

It came from the heavily criticised Jack Wighton, who many believed should not have been starting at centre over Stephen Crichton.

In the end, Wighton outshone Crichton over the course of the game, and his hard-running line saw him carry Selwyn Cobbo over the tryline to score.

As the game continued to go tit-for-tat, it was the Blues who were unable to sustain any continued momentum or ascendancy.

That inability to do so cost them and from there, it became the Munster show with plenty of supporting players.

Prior to their scoring, however, the Maroons did lose Xavier Coates to a possible syndesmosis injury.

That injury prompted a move to the wing for Valentine Holmes but it was the other wing that opened the Maroons’ scoring.

A meek pass made its way to Selwyn Cobbo who broke down the sideline before kicking infield for Dane Gagai to score, continuing his stellar Origin try-scoring record.

The Maroons’ injury fears went from bad to worse when Jeremiah Nanai left the field but he would later return.

The Blues would have an injury of their own with Kotoni Staggs forced off the field with a shoulder complaint.

The Maroons’ second try came off a scrum with Daly Cherry-Evans spotting a gap in the defensive line and taking it to score, despite talk that Junior Paulo was held back in the scrum.

An absolutely delightful cut-out pass from Kalyn Ponga then found Holmes on the wing to score to give the Maroons a strong lead.

The Blues were able to pull a try back through Cameron Murray when he burst onto a Jarome Luai pass but that was all she wrote.

In the end, the tenacity, work rate and desire of Munster with his adlib play, and the bruising efforts of both Carrigan and Cotter, got the Maroons over the line.

With the next game to be played in Perth, the Blues have their work cut out to outmuscle and outperform a dogged and determined Queensland pack.

Man of the match Munster said post-game that it was one of the toughest games he has ever played in.

“It was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played,” Munster said.

“That’s the best thing about Origin, just how hard the game is.”

Brad Fittler criticised his side’s ability to gain any momentum through the ruck.

“I thought we didn’t really win the ruck at all, it was only when we fell behind we started playing,” Fittler said.

“There was a lot of slow play-the-balls, they made it pretty tricky. I have to commend them for the job they did. That’s about it.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Cameron Munster (QLD)

2. Reuben Cotter (QLD)

1. Harry Grant (QLD)

Queensland Maroons debutant Reuben Cotter

 

By ricky

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