REAMS of newsprint and hours of TV and radio airtime has been dedicated to post-mortems of Origin III - and deservedly so. But I'm yet to hear any kudos for what was an outstanding refereeing performance.
I don't carry a can for referees. Those who are employed fulltime by the NRL are well paid and have not been forced at gunpoint to do the job. Refereeing is their career.
And in general this year, and particularly during the first two Origin matches, they have been pilloried. It seems players, coaches and commentators can make mistakes, but not referees.
On Wednesday night, Shane Hayne and Ben Cummins were excellent. Sure Queenslanders will whinge about the penalty count, but I can't recall one that was not warranted. And some might say policing of the 10 metres was a little lax, and that defenders were allowed more time to hold down the tackled player, but those leniencies worked both ways.
Two decisions in particular were brilliant. When Hayne ruled Darius Boyd had finger-tip control on a rolling ball in the Queensland in-goal, very few agreed. And the ruck prior to him scoring the Blues second try, Trent Merrin looked for all money as though he had knocked on. But both decisions were spot-on.
The fact no-one bleated about the referees after the game is an indication of the old adage: 'a good referee is one who is not seen'. And, in today's super-critical society, no whinge is probably a rap.
IT WAS predictable - once again the Blues have started eating their own. And unless he turns into a combination of Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston overnight, Mitchell Pearce will never wear a NSW Origin jersey again.
Pearce may have his shortcomings, and he may have been given 12 Origin matches to prove he is the one, but chopping and changing halves combinations will come to the inevitable conclusion - a dozen successive Origin series wins for Queensland.
Since the Maroons winning run started in 2006, NSW has used 15 different halves pairings. Last year one point separated the two sides in the deciding game, this year two points. Yet the critics are already calling for the heads of Pearce and his compatriot James Maloney, who may well steer the Roosters to the 2013 premiership.
Hopefully, when the time comes next year, Laurie Daley is more circumspect.
Bring it home
COWBOYS fans have every reason to feel robbed. Three of the best players on the field in Wednesday's Origin classic were Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Brent Tate.
In a nutshell, they have failed to deliver that kind of form this season for the team that pays them their bread and butter. And James Tamou, who talks better than he delivers, has failed on all fronts.
Maybe, now that the rep season is over, the big-name, big-money quartet can also deliver at home.
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