NRL Six Again: State of Origin Edition, Blues dominance complete

First tackle: Better start didn't help

Queensland started Game 1 with a lofted kick-off and an ineffective opening defensive set. They weren't going to make the same mistake at Suncorp Stadium for Game II. The opening kick was deep and a Maroons welcoming party charged down to greet Daniel Saifiti with a jarring first hit of the game.

They repeated the dose for each of the Blues opening hit-ups, including one from Tom Trbojevic, whose attempt at a prop-like charge was shortened right up by the enthusiastic Queensland defence.

Nathan Cleary was forced into a clearing kick from deep inside his own territory and he too was belted for his troubles. It was a much-improved start from the Maroons and set them up for some early territorial advantage.

The Blues weathered the storm and slowly picked the Queensland defence apart at the seams, as the game progressed and the Maroons' enthusiasm waned.

Second tackle: Rare rule ruins great try

The officiating on the night was generally good, but it was a pity to see the black and white application of one of the game's most obscure rules. Thankfully the call, early in the second half, didn't play a part in determining the outcome of the game.

With New South Wales working towards halfway after a deep Queensland kick, Blues second-row forward Cameron Murray pulled up in the Queensland line on his way back to being onside. As play continued he ran into position in the Blues' backline where he threw a long pass to Josh Addo-Carr who took off like a scalded cat down the sideline. With the cover defence converging he put in a perfect centering kick which bounced up into the arms of the fleet-footed Trbojevic, who crossed for what would have been the Blues' fourth try of the night.

The letter of the rarely used law states that any attacking player in front of the play-the-ball can not be involved in the ensuing play, unless they first retreat behind the point where the ball was played. What made the call ridiculous was that the Blues had passed the ball several times, had advanced almost 10 metres and in taking his place in the backline Murray had received no advantage from his initial position. If anything he had to scramble to be part of the play and only missed getting back to the original mark by a couple of metres.

The rule is designed to stop a player camped downfield from suddenly bobbing up in support of a line break. Although the call was technically correct, it ruined what would have been another brilliant Blues try and seemed to take a lot of steam out of their attack for the next 20 minutes.

Third tackle: Crowd surprisingly Blue-tinged

The Suncorp Stadium crowd was at its expected best, roaring at every Maroons effort, booing the Blues and referee at every opportunity and creating the hostile cauldron atmosphere for which it is famous.

What was surprising was the amount of support the Blues received on the night, considering the COVID border closures. Thousands of Blues fans from Sydney had their Suncorp plans shattered by the recent outbreak and subsequent restrictions enforced by both State Governments.

Still, there was loud applause and cheering for each Blues try and even the hint of a "New South Wales" chant just before halftime. Visually there was a sprinkling of sky blue jerseys throughout the stands, as well as a section of blue-wig-wearing Blatchys Blues, who somehow made it to Brisbane. All proud supporters who were lucky enough to be present on a great night for New South Wales.

Fourth tackle: Fox try finally

Punters who might have had a Josh Addo-Carr try as part of their Game I multi, would have been rewarded for sticking with the man they call The Fox for Game II. It was remarkable that the game's premier winger couldn't cross the chalk at all despite eight tries being scored in the 50-6 thumping in Townsville.

In Brisbane he didn't leave his supporters waiting long, on the end of a sweep to the right, Addo-Carr crossed in the 11th minute of the game for the first of his two tries on the night. He was paying a healthy $7 for first try scorer with TAB as well.

Fifth and last: Thrilling Women's Origin showed what we loved about rugby league

What an exciting game of rugby league we were served up on Friday night as the women battled it out for State of Origin supremacy. In less than perfect conditions on the Sunshine Coast, there was a fair amount of spilled ball, but plenty of sharp ball handling, hard running and rock solid defence.

This was women's rugby league at the elite level and it produced a game which was much more enjoyable than a lot of NRL games have been this year. One key difference in the officiating was the absence of the "six again" rule. Each team would generally have their six tackles to gain territory or mount an attacking raid before turning to a kick. Completions and skill with the ball determined the dominant team, not the whim of a referee trying to impress by punishing random infringements on the fly.

New South Wales Sky Blues looked the better of the two for large parts of the night, but blew several scoring opportunities to leave the scoreline evenly matched for most of the game.

Just when you thought you were watching rugby league as it should be, the bunker said "hold my beer" and ruled a ridiculous black and white interpretation of the obstruction rule to disallow a late Queensland try.

The referee wasn't done either, awarding a match-winning penalty in front of the posts to the Maroons. The ruck had been sloppy at best for most of the night, but a three-player tackle five metres out was ruled too unruly and the Blues were penalised. It was a disappointing way to end the game, but considering the obstruction call, justice was ultimately served.

Handover: Blues domination complete

Never before in State of Origin history has a team so convincingly wrapped up the series in two games. The Blues scored 76 points across the two games, but more impressively conceded just six.

Coach Brad Fittler said after the Game I thumping that his favourite play of the night was a scrambling try-saving effort from Isaah Yeo and Brian To'o, despite the result being well and truly in the bag.

He would have been over the moon with the Blues' Game II try-line desperation. There were two perfect examples on either side of the field in the second half. Trbojevic cut across his line in cover to thump the outstretched arm of Xavier Coates, jarring the ball loose just as he was about to plant it in the corner. While To'o was just as impressive in knocking the ball from the grasp of Kyle Feldt as he was set to score after regathering a kick through the defensive line.

Scoring 76 points across two games makes any team hard to beat. Conceding just six points makes it impossible.