Maroons reveal ‘lapse’ that cost them
THEY say State of Origin is about moments. And Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans admits the Maroons botched a big one with a play-the-ball "lapse" before NSW sealed a series-clinching 26-20 win.
Cherry-Evans confirmed he was ready to cap another trademark Queensland comeback by kicking a series-deciding field goal in the dying moments of Origin III on Wednesday night.
After fighting back from 12 points down to level at 20-all, the stage was set for Cherry-Evans to be the hero in his debut series as captain after centre Moses Mbye's run put them in field goal position.
But inexplicably Mbye was slow to play the ball - and Cherry-Evans said their moment was quickly lost.
"I was definitely thinking it (field goal). We got into field position for it," Cherry-Evans said.
"The referee called time off but there was a bit of a slow play-the-ball there so my mindset was after that there was too much pressure (for a field goal), just put it in the corner and look at golden point.
"Rugby league can be a cruel game. After 79 minutes of focus we just had one lapse for one minute.
"Origin is made up of many moments. Unfortunately NSW had more bigger moments than us."
Cherry-Evans' admission comes after Nine commentator Phil Gould laid the blame squarely at the feet of Wests Tigers star Mbye at the end of Wednesday night's match.
"It's a slow play-the-ball," Phil Gould said on Channel 9 at the time. "He's just lost all his momentum."
History shows NSW then seized their moment.
The Blues remarkably pulled off a final minute try by Wally Lewis Medal winner James Tedesco that will rival Queenslander Mark Coyne's "miracle" 1994 effort to seal back-to-back series for the first time since 2005.
But a shattered Queensland coach Kevin Walters refused to point the finger at Mbye.
"He was set to do it, I could see his body language," Walters said of Cherry-Evans' field goal that never was.
"Then we got a slow play the ball for some reason. He (Cherry-Evans) just ran out of time.
"I guess when you go for a field goal at that stage and you miss, you give up seven tackles and (give) the opposition a chance to get down your end and do something themselves.
"But I'm not going to be critical of anyone. I'm really proud."
REFEREES DID A GOOD JOB IN ORIGIN
The dramatic reduction in penalties in the second half of Wednesday's State of Origin decider wasn't due to the NRL issuing directions to referees at halftime. Referees Gerard Sutton and Ashley Klein blew 12 penalties in the first half of NSW's dramatic game three victory at ANZ Stadium.
Ex-Origin coaches Paul Vautin and Phil Gould both criticised the frequent stoppages during the Nine Network's broadcast of the match.
In stark contrast there were just two penalties in the second 40 minutes with the Blues winning the penalty count 8-6.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the dramatic reduction in penalties was a consequence of the first-half crackdown and not due to officials telling referees to put their whistles away.
"It has to be placed in the context that this was an Origin decider," Annesley told AAP.
"Both teams were trying to establish their dominance.
"When that happens teams are going to push the rules to the limit, particularly in the play-the-ball and the 10 metres.
"If the referees just ignored that, the game degenerates into an arm wrestle for 80 minutes.
"I believe that the action that they took in the first half allowed the game to open up in the second half."
Annesley met with referees on Monday after a series of errors in round 16 which he said just wasn't "good enough".
He said four costly mistakes had led to tries, or robbed teams of crucial four-pointers, in last weekend's action.
Sutton was among those criticised for blunders in the clash between the Warriors and Penrith, including sending Jarome Luaito the sin bin when he should not have been.
The criticism came just a week after Annesley described referees' efforts in round 15 as "sloppy".
Sutton and Klein were the referees for all three Origin matches and Annesley said he was pleased with the overall performance during the series. "We were happy with the way the series was controlled," he said.
"Ultimately, the players determined the outcome, which is an important aspect for us."