Origin: The agony and the ecstasy
Queensland State of Origin fans celebrate the "best game ever" while "devastated" Blues fans are wondering if they'll win a series "in our lifetime".PT1M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2q5oa 620 349 July 18, 2013
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 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.
State of Origin - Game III
Johnathon Thurston on the run. 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?''