Coach can be satisfied with everything but the result
May 24, 2012
It wasn’t the Origin debut Todd Carney was after but NSW coach Ricky Stuart could be satisfied with the performance of his new-look Blues side.
Having chosen a side with strike power across the park, Stuart’s plan to use his mobile forwards to create opportunities for the NSW backs with regular offloads constantly tested the Maroons defence.
The kicking games of halfback Mitchell Pearce and hooker Robbie Farah also gave the Blues good field position and kept the pressure on Queensland. So effective were the NSW tactics that the Maroons forwards appeared to be run off their feet midway through the second half.
On reflection, the controversial sin-binning of NSW centre Michael Jennings and a number of blunders by Carney helped let the Maroons off the hook.
Instead of building on their 4-0 lead, Jennings was sin-binned for running in to a melee to punch Brent Tate, NSW had to defend with 12 players and then conceded a try to Darius Boyd in the 26th minute. As Jennings prepared to return to the field, the Blues received a relieving penalty, but Carney failed to find touch and Queensland regained the ball.
A penalty against Greg Bird for a lifting tackle on Cooper Cronk increased the pressure on NSW and they could not hold on until half-time, with Boyd crossing again. The Queensland winger got the better of his Newcastle teammate Akuila Uate, who showed a tendency to rush infield in defence.
But the Blues were impressive with the ball and Farah, whose Origin credentials had been questioned by NSW assistant coach Steve Roach before the teams were named, was one of the best. Jennings, dumped to NSW Cup by his Penrith coach Ivan Cleary, made amends for his sin-binning with a second-half try as well as several more attacking raids.
New Zealand-born prop James Tamou was heavily involved in the early stages and regularly offloaded the ball, while Tony Williams was a threat when thrust into action for the final 30 minutes in his first appearance since a seven-match suspension.
But it was not just the Blues attack that was impressive - they also showed desperation and commitment in defence.
Josh Morris was the NSW player assigned the biggest task after being moved from his usual left-centre role to the right side to mark Greg Inglis. He proved up to the job.
Johnathan Thurston created space with a dummy to send Inglis flying down the sideline in the 15th minute but Morris scrambled and, with the help of Carney, pushed the South Sydney superstar into touch. Morris also wrestled Billy Slater to ground in the 18th minute to snuff out a Queensland raid, while Pearce chased down a Brent Tate from behind moments later.