As you very well know, 26 Rounds is purely a Roosters site. And while we love State Of Origin here, to drift from the original mandate set out by the founding fathers of 26 Rounds would be akin to pissing on the national flag or taking a dump on freedom.
Whether that make sense is up to you to decide, but 26 Rounds has figured out a way to get the best of both worlds without compromising the basic tenets of the website.
After each game we’ll give the Roosters representatives a score based on their performances during each game, starting with last night’s 14-6 win. We’ll have stats, analysis and all that shit, and give a random score to something else that happened in the game — whether it be a shitty refereeing performance, an awesome display by a non-Rooster, a streaker or a punch: someone else will get scored in addition to the Chooks’ reps.
So without delaying your excitement further, here’s the first report card for 2013.
(As a rule, I’m not putting minuses or pluses next to each report: only A through to F. Too much artwork effort involved.)
NEW SOUTH WALES 14 (Hayne, Jennings tries, Maloney three goals) bt QUEENSLAND 6 (Boyd try, Smith goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 80,380.
Report: Mitchell Pearce threw one bad ball but the rest were on song it what could be considered a classical, near-perfect halfback’s performance. He brought his club form into the Origin arena almost to a tee and his combination with Luke Lewis out the right-hand edge caused carnage all night. It’s the type of combination that MP7 has started to develop with SBW for the Roosters.
He directed the Blues forwards around with a maturity and confidence we haven’t seen from MP7 at this level, and every forward he passed to came running off the pass at an angle and into a half gap, especially in the first half. You can credit the forwards for the metres they made but MP7 deserves a ton of credit for getting them into the right position to do so.
No doubt Souths fans and the Telegraph will make a big deal about that poor pass in the first half which Luke Lewis couldn’t catch around his ankles, but they can’t question the influence he had on this game. And again, defensively, Mitch proved there is no better defensive half in the game. He combined well on the left-edge in defence with Paul Gallen on a number of occasions, prving why he’s an Origin player at last.
He outpointed Cooper Cronk in all facets and his kicking game, while not always finding grass, always made metres. Luke Lewis won the man of the match award but credited Pearce with getting him there. Many of the Blues forwards would undoubtedly say the same thing.
Stats: Three runs, 54 metres, three tackle busts, one line break, six kicks for 196 metres, 21 tackles with two misses, three goals from four attempts.
He was quiet the rest of the match but defensively he was as scrappy as they come, repeatedly cutting down half-breaks before they became full breaks. He had a few misses but brought his club form into the Origin arena perfectly, and became the first NSW five-eighth to win on debut.
His kicking was solid and included a rare banana kick which resulted in a much-needed repeat set in the second half. He slotted three from four goals and managed to get opened up again on his lip while getting a new cut on his forehead. He’s made of tissue paper apparently, but he proved he’s more than capable of playing Origin as a player who can make things happen off the back of a dominant forward pack, as his first half proved. He gets a B purely because his second half was pretty quiet and Mitchell Pearce was a clear A and just ahead of his halves partner.
Stats: One try, 10 runs, 88 metres, seven tackle busts, one line break, 15 tackles with two misses, three errors.
Report: The try he scored should really go down as one of the best individual tries scored in rugby league. Ever.
Given the stage, the score, the difficulty level and the players he beat to touch down in the first half, it really isn’t up for debate. It reminded this writer of the try Stacey Jones scored against the Roosters in the 2002 Grand Final — weaving right then back left, beating five players and scoring. But this tops it thanks to his beating 38.5 per cent of the Queensland team (five players out of 13) and the strength he showed to force the ball down.
He had three errors and two missed tackles but he got involved a lot more than Greg Inglis and alleviated pressure from his forwards with mid-set hitups, especially in the first half in one sequence when he had two runs in the one set.
Hodges made a break against him but other than that he wasn’t spotted. Jennings, with this performance, has cemented his place in Origin for the Blues. He was a constant handful and seemingly grows another limb when playing for NSW.
Report: Gallen is the kind of guy that could punch a player in the face three times and blame it on the player he hit. To wit:
He has a career as a lawyer once this is all said and done, an ambulance chaser with a Blues jersey in his closet.
That combo also led to perhaps the best Tweet of the year, from Deano (@deank88):
Laughter. From a Winger. In Origin.
Stats: 11 runs, 11 returns to his feet and 10 smiles at the tackler.
The Blues were talking about the Canberra centre’s cockiness in camp, and it certainly showed in this one as he had the audacity to laugh at the opposition during Origin from the comfort of the wing. Oh, and he also had a superb game, especially under the high ball.
This game has cemented his place as one of this writer’s favourite players, not necessarily for his incredible abundance of talent but more for the lulz. I love him.
Stats sourced from The Sydney Morning Herald: