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Surreal run flips switch to comedy in final minutes

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Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

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Did security act quickly enough to stop streaker?

A streaker lost a try for Queensland in Origin III after he raced onto the pitch close to the end of the much anticipated game.

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Of course it was going to come down to a bloody obstruction call.

What nobody expected is that the decoy runner in question would be an obese bald man, nude all over, charging from the longest of runs into the defensive line.

Obstruction: The match review committee is sure to have words with the runner who disrupted the closing minutes of ...

Obstruction: The match review committee is sure to have words with the runner who disrupted the closing minutes of Origin III at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night. Photo: Getty Images

Robbie Farah complained about a ''sleeper'' helping Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston to score the first try of the match. But a nudist who looked like he'd fallen asleep in the solarium? Come on.

Origin has produced most of rugby league's headline moments, but surely nobody will ever forget where they were on the night a streaker charged into the middle of the play with two minutes remaining as Maroons prop Matt Scott appeared to have scored.

Video of the incident will bounce around the world. The standing joke at the bar for weeks to come. Questions must be asked of the security that allowed it to happen.

Johnathon Thurston on the run. Click for more photos

State of Origin - Game III

All the action from game three of State of Origin, 2013 - NSW Blues vs the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito

What doesn't change is the result for long-suffering Blues - players and fans. Last year, it was a point. This time, it was two. It doesn't really matter.

It is Groundhog Day. It is February 2 and the clock radio on the night stand just came on and it is playing Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe.

All of NSW is Bill Murray today.

Justin Hodges - the best on the field on Wednesday night - should've broken their hearts. His try with 19 minutes to play in the series pushed the Maroons out to a 12-4 lead. Yet the Blues hung on grimly, as they did in the decider last year.

Trent Merrin's try from a standing start, having shrugged off Corey Parker, set up the obligatory grandstand finish but again the curse refused to be broken.

Queensland oozes confidence, long before they take the field.

An hour before kick-off, the ominous frame of coach Mal Meninga and some of his coaching staff strode across from the corporate area and took their place in the coaches box to watch the curtain-raiser to the main event.

At the same time, several Manchester United players were slumming it in a private suite in the far corner of the ground.

ANZ Stadium is no Old Trafford. Comparisons to the Theatre of Dreams would be sacrilege.

But it's our Olympic Stadium, and in recent times officials this side of the Tweed have done their best to cultivate it into some semblance of a home ground advantage for NSW.

On Wednesday night, it shook with noise from the first whistle. The first half demonstrated all that is equally frustrating and heartening about Laurie Daley's side. Mitchell Pearce dropped the ball on his second touch of the night, and if you listened carefully enough you could hear thousands of remote controls thrown at televisions and the name of Adam Reynolds shouted in frustration.

A try as easy as Thurston's opener should never come so early in an Origin decider.

James Maloney's late shoulder charge on Cooper Cronk was as senseless as his early strip in game two in Brisbane, and it provided Thurston with more points from a penalty goal.

Then came reason to believe.

Andrew Fifita is a beast by anyone's reckoning. His anger and Anthony Watmough's furious little legs in the middle of the field turned the tide the Blues' way.

It wasn't the Hand of God but the Finger of Darius that prevented NSW from scoring from a Farah grubber that had dangerously danced around in the in-goal.

But just as winger James McManus did so much to beat Billy Slater to score the four-pointer that dragged the Blues back into the contest, so it was that his mistake - a knock-on from a Cronk kick - allowed them to seize control again.

There was talk before the decider that Daley might quit as NSW coach if he broke the curse.

With one year on his agreement left the run, the temptation would've been for him to walk away if Everest was conquered.

''We'll see,'' he told me in the days before the Origin decider when asked if he would consider an early exit.

Asked after the match if he would continue on next year, the coach said: ''We have to. I'm keen.''

If Hodges was the best player on the field, the worst was the streaker. They should throw the book at him, and he should never be allowed into a sporting fixture again. Or a grade-three contrary conduct charge from the match review committee should be coming his way at the very least.

None of it changes the fact that it is Groundhog Day and all of NSW are Bill Murray today.

Maybe they can take solace in the fact they won't wake on Thursday morning like one obese bald man, nude all over, who will ask himself: ''What did I do last night?''

Twitter -@awebstar1

10 comments

  • They are all nudists? So funny

    Commenter
    Nudistfriendfinder
    Location
    New York
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 1:42AM
    • We have to sign the fat nude guy up for NSW

      He was the only one capable of stopping a Qld try from close range!

      Mitchell Pearce's place should be open next season.

      BTW what is it about naming your kid Mitchell that makes them promise so much and deliver so little. Anything, Mrs Johnson, Starc and Pearce?

      Commenter
      Cranky of Croydon
      Location
      Croydon
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 12:40PM
  • What a night!!!!!!!! FANTASTIC WIN QLD!!. I desperately want to watch that match again. The Burleigh Heads pub nearly fell apart from the noise. And it was good to see the return of the streaker.

    Commenter
    PeterH
    Location
    Burleigh Heads
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 9:20AM
    • I had enough. No more origin for me. Looks like a perpetual loss, so I'll stop watching it from now on.

      Commenter
      DepressedexBlue
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 1:12PM
      • SOO has always been all about QLD more than NSW but if QLD's dominance goes on and on the ever fickle NSW fans will eventually lose interest and the series will die. With SOO dead, League will eventually die and as I've loathed the game since the Rupert League war ruined it and think it is now the one code too many in Australia these days, all I can say is - GO QUEENSLAND!!!

        Commenter
        Caneroach the Cock Toad
        Location
        Tweedangatta
        Date and time
        July 18, 2013, 1:39PM
        • I think Origin will die. It is no longer worthwhile watching as it so one-sided. I am pleased because it is not a good sport in any case. I wouldn't be surprised to see the media in NSW start losing interest and will result in drop of the dollars spent on NRL. Perhaps soccer or rugby union will benefit if they get their plans in place.

          Commenter
          Jim
          Date and time
          July 18, 2013, 2:25PM
          • Jim, what do you wont?? A return to the old days & all Queenslanders playing south of the border put on Blue jerseys as it was pre-origin?? NSW will win when they understand SOO. Read my comments several below yours & you may understand. I am not having a go at you, but I am trying to introduce a bit of "historical debate".

            Commenter
            Paul C
            Location
            Toowoomba
            Date and time
            July 19, 2013, 11:46AM
        • I know there has been the usual handwringing faux outrage about the streaker, but geez it was funny

          Commenter
          Sean
          Location
          Umina
          Date and time
          July 18, 2013, 5:05PM
          • 'Thurston hits the streaker with a perfect pass and he scores untouched under the sticks' - that would really have brought the house down!

            Commenter
            the blurter
            Date and time
            July 18, 2013, 6:54PM
            • Pre State of Origin, I & many tens of thousands of Queenslanders turned up to the Exhibition Grounds or Lang Park to see our Qld team get belted by the NSW team which was "stacked " with Queenslanders. For me it was over 20 years before a SOO game. NSW supporters don't give up on your team, your turn will come when you understand the meaning of SOO like Queenslanders do.

              Commenter
              Paul C
              Location
              Toowoomba
              Date and time
              July 19, 2013, 8:16AM
              Comments are now closed

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              GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
              MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
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              STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
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              SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
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              Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
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              NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
              Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
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              WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
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              NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
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              Round 24
              Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
              BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
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              NQL vs NZW 00:001300
              MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
              CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
              PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
              SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
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              Round 25
              Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
              NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
              Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
              CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
              MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
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              MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
              CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
              NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
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              Round 26
              Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
              NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
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