Queensland 12 (Thurston, Hodges tries, Thurston two goals) bt NSW 10 (McManus, Merrin tries, Maloney goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 83,813.
Report: That was probably Mitchell Pearce’s last game in an Origin Jersey. He had a chance to make a statement, and while he was active and tried a few things, nothing really came off. He dropped a ball early, got caught on the fifth tackle once (when Robbie Farah wasn’t kicking it on the fourth), passed the ball too early to Josh Dugan on the right in attack on several occasions in the first half, and overall didn’t make the impact he needed to.
And aside from a few runs that ultimately went nowhere, the superb direction he gave his forwards in game one was off last night.
Adam Reynolds will be the halfback next year it would seem. But the loss was NOT Mitchell’s fault, and the viriol headed his way is nothing short of disgusting and an embarrassment for those flinging it. Robbie Farah was horrid last night and provided poor service as I will detail further on down — and he wasn’t the only one to have a shocker in what amounted to a game decided by a penalty goal.
To blame Mitch solely for the loss is flat-out wrong. I tweeted this following the game:
That sentiment stands. He did not win them the game — far from it. But other players in the NSW team certainly did more to contribute to the Blues losing it. His report mark falls probably closer to a C- than a C+ but did nothing that warranted people singling him out for the loss, especially compared to the dumb play of others in the squad.
If it’s his last game, so be it — selfishly, he’ll be focussed solely on the Roosters, plus he’ll be at a club and among teammates that love him, and among fans who don’t hang their own out to dry.
Stats: Five runs for 44 metres, eight kicks for 277 metres, 21 tackles, one missed, one penalty, one error.
Report: The BBQ started poorly — giving away a cheap penalty for a shoulder charge on a kicking Cooper Cronk — but afterwards was superb. He bounced back from a horrid Game two to miss just the one tackle and looked dangerous with each run.
When Cordner came on, he excelled, combining off the quick play the ball from Boyd’s first run to spread it early for Jenko, before Farah inexplicably put in a kick on the fourth with momentum on their side for a rare instance.
Defensively he stood up, only missing the one tackle early during a weaving run from Slater which eventually resulted in a line break. He was clearly the better NSW half in this one and did his club and state proud.
Stats: 10 runs for 78 metres, 27 tackles, no misses, three errors.
In the second half he was given more opportunity but failed to break the line — although he looked the man most likely last in the game once Cordner was brought on and the Chook combos started to click.
Defensively he was incredible with 27 tackles and no misses, repeatedly shutting down Hodges, who only managed to score after Jennings was forced to come in to make an earlier tackle mid-field. It was a solid outing and following his game one performance he has done enough to stamp the left centre spot as his own for NSW for as long as he wants it.
Stats: Eight runs for 51 metres, 12 tackles, three misses.
Report: His stats don’t jump out and punch you in the face like they’re Merrin and you’re Tate, but the Blues looked a far better squad for 20 minutes when he came on. His quick play the ball, the best in the competition, is a genuine weapon and on several occassions the Blues were able to make an impact out wide thansk to the space the play the ball created.
He missed three tackles but none crucial, and will play Origin again. It will be very hard to keep him out of this one.
He struggled with the pace and intenisty of the game towards the end, but if you look at his stats and think he failed to make a dent, compare them to some of his teammates: Luke Lewis (nine runs, 48 metres and a torn calf muscle), Trent Merrin (nine runs, 49 metres, a try) and Aaron Woods (four runs, 18 metres). In a beaten pack he did pretty well.
And its hard to argue the eye test: they looked a better team with him out there.
Stats: Five runs for 49 metres, six kicks for 173 metres, 43 tackles, one miss, one error.
Report: If you compared Robbie’s stats to Boyd’s, you’d say Farah was by far the better player and perhaps one of the best on field. But that’s why television exists: so we can see what the stats don’t show.
What the stats don’t show is the following: The miss led to Jonathan Thurston’s try; He threw an aimless ball which led to Jenko’s first drop; he kicked on the fourth with momentum on their side following a mini-break from Jennings; a first tackle, ridiculous hail-mary kick to the wing with 30 seconds left with the game on the line; incredibly woeful service out of dummy half which retarded any momentum the Blues rarely had; and a lack of awareness around the ruck in taking advantage of slow marker play in the second half.
Oh, and while this is an unofficial stat, there was this tweet:
I might be alone in this — and believe me, this is not a ploy to get Mitch off the hook — but I truly believe it was one of the dumber games played by an individual in an Origin decider. He has had some superb games at Origin level but this was by far his worst.
Stats: Two balls, three inches, two spare tires, two titties, two minutes to go, one scrum, six again.
Stats sourced from The Sydney Morning Herald: