With the fallout from the first game in the series and the build up to the second becoming a shadow for all other stories in the media, it may come as a surprise that kick-off time was forgotten. Driving to the place of viewing at a bastardly pace listening to that magnificent second movement of the 9th symphony of the old Ludwig Van is the best way to bring to a peak all the senses.
One minute and 49 seconds is easy time to catch up on. The pre-game analyses had the advantage in different hands, as rain would make the game a different story. Grip would be lost and passes would be shorter with a heavier reliance upon the kicking game. That is what all sources agreed upon. But the first try of the game came as a complete shock to all who witnessed.
A kick that bounced off a goal post and onto the lucky arms of Kennedy put NSW on the score-board. The referee was right on top of the action but was knocked out of the way and needed the assistance of the video referee to decide if the whole shebang was chicken soup.
About 14 minutes in, Queensland coughed up the ball badly, and in the sequence of resulting play, NSW almost scored again. This is the point where the wildly swinging arms of Kennedy seemed to spell out "goodnight, gentlemen" for Sing at a very close range.
A change of pace and a probing kick from Queensland then had NSW scrambling on the wrong side of their try line; caught completely unawares. But the ball was knocked on after 3 tackles of unrelenting pressure. "you have to make the buggers sweat" I tried to explain to the television. "Make them screw it up as they have made you screw up." Yet within minutes, NSW had scored again through Gidley, who was left largely untouched by a lackluster Queensland defence.
Shortly after, a brutally strong NSW defensive line have Price swaying like an idiot in the breeze. A closer look would show that it was again the swinging arms of Kennedy that was the problem.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye or a second of misguided attention, Minichiello scored in neatly in the corner for NSW. Add a failed conversion to the score to yield a 16 - 0 lead to NSW in the 26th minute.
Hits, misses and strange fumblings were the norm as the half wound down to a close, and in more a psychological strike than concern for the score, Johns managed to get the ball through the posts for one extra point.
The second half looked to be an uphill battle that was into both the wind and the sun. It began like the half before it; a kick and a catch. Tallis was noticeably unheard this game, which was a disappointment.
A surging run from Bailey almost scored, but eventually lead to a penalty for which NSW opted to gain 2 more points. This was the safe option, but points are points, and it was more of what Queensland didn't have. And 19 - 0 really does spell out "defeat," only with fewer vowels, although 35 more minutes of football is time for anything to occur. And it would be another 20 minutes before some punches were ineffectively thrown about.
NSW score 2 more tries; one a spectacular flick pass, the other a diving scramble. It's the only Queensland try of the game which was any kind of mar on the game. The whole play reeked of knock-ons but Croker was awarded the points; some consolation for a team that never really looked like running into anything other than defeat. It's easy to say such things when one has the benefit of instant and slow motion replays, which is often why they are said.
The aforementioned "flick pass" try in the 73rd minute really put the kitten into the fireplace for Queensland.
The Man of the match was Andrew Johns, but he didn't really have anything decent to say so some goobers sprayed him with Gatorade and others didn't really pay attention.
The next match is inconsequential, but still, it is hoped that the sand issue will not rear its ugly head again.
Reviewed on Wednesday, 25 June 2003
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