Rugbu League

How Peter V’landys helped the NSW Blues devour Queensland

The Blues were able to achieve this, despite a one-sided repeat set count against them.

Referee Gerard Sutton punished NSW five to Queensland’s one for ruck infringements and three to Queensland’s zero for inside the ten metre breaches.

Exhausted Maroons players look on after a Blues try during game one of the 2021 State of Origin.Credit:Getty

That’s a massive eight to one count, yet Queensland could do little with the additional possession, other than score one try in the 50-6 humiliation.

The repeat set count was slightly above Sutton’s NRL average of 7.6 this season and a counter to those who say, other than high shots, it was refereed differently.

It certainly ‘flowed’ and would have been a flood if Sutton had sinbinned the Maroons’ Kyle Feldt for a careless tackle.

Latrell Mitchell celebrates his first try in a stirring comeback for NSW.

Latrell Mitchell celebrates his first try in a stirring comeback for NSW.Credit:Getty

Coaches have long accused referees of being choreographers, evening up the contest when awarding penalties and repeat sets to a team behind on the scoreboard.

But the evidence of Wednesday night is that no matter how much additional possession a referee gifts an inferior team via six agains, if there are no stoppages, the dominant team will prevail.

Pre-2020, when a weak team breached in the ruck or the ten metres, they gained some respite, re-setting their defensive line while the attack kicked to the sideline ahead of a tap kick.

Now, it’s as if the inferior team is trying to sweep back the tide with a broom.

Sure, Queensland will be more competitive in Origin 11 at Suncorp Stadium, especially if they can strengthen the forward pack, find another centre and fullback Kalyn Ponga is fit.

The Maroons still possess the ‘Chip on the Shoulder’, the single greatest weapon in their arsenal, a state-of-the-art device which allows them to claim under-dog status and rise from hospital beds, yank out catheters and sprint on to the field for historic victories.

However, providing NSW coach Frederick Fittler can field his same team, without experiencing injuries in the intervening NRL matches, it seems no amount of home team favouritism in Brisbane can halt the Blues under the new rules.

NSW teams have traditionally ‘looked better on paper’, as Queensland coach Paul Green said pre match, with the inference being they should play on paper.

But even referee Barry “Grasshopper” Gomersall wouldn’t have been able to help the Maroons under rules which allow a dominant team to develop momentum.


When the broadcasters complained to V’landys about declining ratings ahead of last year’s rule changes, they didn’t define whether the cause was wrestling, structured play, kicking to corners, or deliberately conceding penalties.

It is true the game needed some medicine but, with the trend to blowouts showing no sign of abating, particularly in the code’s showpiece games, the question is whether the side effects are more harmful than the original diagnosis.


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