How the ‘hopeless’ Maroons created Origin history

 

Queensland was supposed to be hopeless, terrible, the worst team in State of Origin's 40-year history.

Instead, the Maroons conjured one of Queensland's greatest ever victories in a 18-14 comeback win to bring life to the unique 2020 series.

For 40 minutes at the Adelaide Oval last night it looked like the pre-game predictions may have been on the money.

The Maroons were outclassed in the opening exchanges of the series-opener as they struggled for cohesion and potency.

Despite making a raft of sloppy errors, the Blues bounced out to a 10-0 lead with their first meaningful possession while Queensland looked like they had no idea how to score.

If the Blues held the ball they could have run away 30-nil victors.

 

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But Origin has been built on more than talent, speed and flashy plays and the Maroons proved that once again last night.

Queensland looked like they were moments away from imploding in an unconvincing first half, but managed to scramble their way to a 10-point deficit at the break.

Whatever master coach Wayne Bennett said to the Maroons in the bowels of the Adelaide Oval made an impact.

The ring rust had disappeared when Queensland emerged. The Maroons clicked into gear and looked like a well-oiled unit.

It was as if this team of misfits needed one half of footy to get to know each other. From there, they took charge in a flawless second half display.

The impact of Queensland's bench forwards Jai Arrow, Lindsay Collins and Jaydn Su'a played a huge role in swinging momentum the Maroons' way.

But few players summed up Queensland better than debutant Kurt Capewell, who only managed nine NRL appearances for Penrith this season. None of those games were at centre.

Yet last night he became a Queensland hero, producing line breaks, kicks, try-assists, bomb catches and intercepts to play a crucial role in the Maroons' comeback victory. He did it all with a busted groin.

His opposite centre was Parramatta fullback Clint Gutherson, who finished second in the Dally M Medal count this year but was outplayed in the Origin arena.

Capewell's performance was indicative of Queensland. Gutherson became a poster boy for NSW's overrated "stars".

After being ravaged by injuries, retirements, suspensions and the departure of coach Kevin Walters, little was expected of the Maroons this year. The Blues were unbackable favourites to win a third straight series.

But in typical Queensland fashion the Maroons rose to, and above, the occasion.

The four-point win was crucial ahead of next Wednesday's return bout at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Maroons have traditionally struggled in NSW and the Blues will relish returning to their home ground, albeit with the pressure of having to save the series.

But this Queensland team proved they are more than just a bunch of fill-ins.

The Maroons of 2020 possess all the attributes needed to become a series-winning team and deliver Queensland the Origin shield for the first time since 2017.

Originally published as How the 'hopeless' Maroons created Origin history


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