It has always been one of those sporting events that I’ve wanted to witness first hand, but have never got around to doing. That was until game 2 of the 2011 series. The NRL State of Origin QLD V’s NSW of recent years has been a lopsided affair with the better side QLD being victorious for the past 5 years. However a new coach and some passion to win have seen the NSW Blues eager to win a series.
Telstra Stadium at Homebush was the venue for game 2. NSW were already down 1 nil, so this match was do or die. Gloomy skies and cold nights had been the norm for the past week and game night looked to be the same. Whatever mother nature threw at us, we’d be ready. Plenty of warm clothes and raincoats were a must, but someone must have been shining on Telstra Stadium and the Blues that night cause everything was perfect.
82000 people had gathered for this game. A sea of blue was everywhere. The blue wig-brigade took up half the stadium and were all in fine voice, chanting New South Wales, New South Wales. It was an amazing spectacle and great to be a part of.
The game was played at a furious pace and QLD took an early lead and seemed to be on their ever-menacing rampage. Some of the hits from both teams would have most people dazed and concussed but these guys kept putting their body on the line time and time again. At half time it was 8-6 QLD.
The second half was a repeat of the first, both teams made line breaks and on a number of occasions a try was sure to result except for great defence. Eventually the relentless pressure by NSW resulted in a try out near our corner of the field. Almost all the 82000 fans went wild. Soward kicked the goal from the sideline and NSW lead 12-8. Could we tie the series, time would tell.
As the clock ticked down NSW hung onto their slender lead, but you knew the “never say die” attitude of QLD could not be underestimated and again QLD went extremely close to scoring a couple of times. However this time the luck was with NSW and with only minutes till full-time, Soward made a break and unselfishly passed to Minichiello who crashed over for the winning try. Soward added the extras for a 18-8 victory to NSW.
My first “at field” experience of S of O couldn’t have been better. A win for NSW and the series was alive going to game 3. The weather had remained fine and the 80000+ fans left joyfully and dry. What a great night.