Queensland’s State of Origin victory over New South Wales at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night was a classic that will be retold for years to come. The Maroons showcased all the hallmarks of their previous victorious efforts, including a fast and confident start, a torrid defensive effort with remarkable second efforts, contested refereeing decisions, injuries, and a late try from the end of the world when all hope looked lost. Lindsay Collins‘ heroic effort to fly over James Tedesco and set up Cameron Munster‘s last-second try was just one example of the players searching deep within themselves and finding plays they never knew they could make.
Despite dominating the first half in every measure except the scoreboard, after Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow‘s second try, the Blues struggled to get out of their way and control the game. Queensland capitalized on their penalties to advance the ball up the middle of the field and secure their first-half tries. Metres came easily and chances were created, but the Blues failed to finish them. This lack of precision showcased that the Blues were looking for big plays without mastering the small plays that lead up to them.
Throughout the game, Queensland stayed in it, as they do in all their classic victories, proving that they’re not perfect, but they find what they need when they need it. Amazing examples include Murray Taulagi saving tries that looked beyond saving, Selwyn Cobbo defying the laws of physics to slide in for his second try, and Reuben Cotter playing 80 minutes at prop and second row and winning player-of-the-match. Cotter’s existence as a top-level footballer is a testament to the power of belief, and he epitomizes the Queensland playing style of never thinking a fight that can’t be won.
New South Wales, on the other hand, will have to bear the shame of defeat, and questions will be asked about game management, last-tackle options, player selection, and more. The pressure will build over the next few weeks ahead of Game II at Lang Park, where the series will be on the line. Taking on Queensland up there is tough enough at the best of times, but calling it their Everest does not adequately describe the challenge ahead of them. Brisbane is a true superpower in Origin football, where the stories about the jersey, the ones they pass down from generation to generation, are all true because they believe in it.
Queensland’s improbable victories have all ended the same way, with the Maroons lifting the shield in front of their adoring home crowd. This vision is closer than ever before, and they have all the answers as the Blues keep asking questions. There are always more chapters to be written, and even with a modern slant on the old stories, a 2023 reboot on something that has been going since 1980, the Queensland magic remains strong and true.