The pre-game hype concentrated on 'hello sailor' (courtesy of Roy and HG):
. would he make the transition from the bastardised version of union to the proper game?;
. how long would he get to play?; and
. some leaguees were arguing that he should have been in the starting side.
If you could actually get through the media bull you wouldnít have known that anyone else was playing. Actually after the game it was the same thing.
The pre match entertainment consisted of U19 Qld thrashing the NSW side; then the oldies match with the rules they used a century ago being displayed, which again resulted in a Qld victory; and then a tribute to both someone and Michael Foley. I am still in denial that John Eales has retired. I am surprised that NZ didnít have a national holiday.
I donít know if it was all the hype on Wendell that pissed of the rest of Qld but what ever it was they were on fire and decided to remind the media that the other players in Qld could turn on an attacking display. Either that or they wanted to remind their Super 12 bunnies who's boss.
3 1/2 minutes into the game Qld was over for their first scintillating try of the match. The move was started 60 m out by Latham. He ran out wide, committed the defence and put Ricky Nalatu (the bloke who took out special agent Mortlock that allowed ACT to win the Super 12) into the clear. Nalatu was on fire, first he burnt them with speed; he chipped over the fullback's head; and ran past him like he was standing still for a try that got the whole stadium to its feet. Nalatu was rumoured to be the bloke that Wendell may replace but he turned on a man of the match performance and ended up with 3 tries for the night and was inches short of scoring four tries.
Nalatu's second try mirrored the first but he used a grubber kick that flirted with the sideline before swinging back into the field and again he was over. Great cover defence by NSW cut him down an inch or two from the line to deny him what should have been his third. It took until injury time and a mistake by Inman who passed the ball to Palesesa before he strolled over for his third under the black dot.
The Qld backs were on fire and it was because the Tahs didn't put pressure on Latham. NSW held back and waited for Latham to do something, instead of putting pressure on him to commit to a decision. So Latham had a blinder, he dominated the back play, he scored one great try by turning the NSW defence inside out and back inside again. He should have had a second after great work by Kefu who put him into the clear, he popped up a ball beautifully and then Latham dropped it over the line. However, Latham picked up the defensive award for the night when he dropped Edmonds. It looked a bit like using a 50 cal rifle on that poor bunny rabbit at 10 paces.
The Reds centre combination smashed into the Tahs all night and then were able to open up holes in their defence (as both players did against the Lions in Townsville. Ok! Ok! Only in the first half), a great example of this was Palesasa's run, which lead to try for Paul Warwick who had only just come on for Flatley. Flatley received a cut in his head, in the 15th minute, and took no further part in the game. Warwick is now the third former bronco in the squad (Pelesasa and Sailor, may the flood continue). Warwick also took over the kicking duties and really didnít kick well but is game was fair and he increased with confidence as the game progressed.
Edmonds has played well for NSW this year but when Burke isn't on the field he doesn't play with the same confidence and it showed with his first kick of for the night. It almost as if he still needs his hand held when it comes to making decisions.
NSW were rusty and they tried to over complicate everything. Their dummy runners keep getting called for obstruction, they were running around like headless chickens, as they kept running into each other or impeding the defensive line. NSW did get a lucky try, off a Qld mistake, before 1/2 time as the ref and touch judge were on their side as Harris dropped the ball over the line (bloody NSW referees). At least Harris did his best to apologise by trying to knock himself out as he attempted to bounce the ball over the line. However, at no other time did the Reds' bunnies look like they were going to break the Qld defensive pattern.
To be honest NSW dominated the scrums and they picked on Da Da Dyson who got screwed around like he was suffering from rinderpest. There is only one way to cure that problem, shoot it and burn the carcass. They also dominated at the breakdown as Waugh lead his forwards well. Croft tried hard but often he was getting isolated and could not do all the work on his own. Damn it, where was Eales?!?
Sharpe, T. Kefu, Croft and Stiles were the stand out players for Qld in the pack. Sharpe in particular took great delight in smashing anyone and everyone with the ball. Kefu is a reserve centre and keeps busting the line. Anyone remember a game in Sydney recently? However, Qld will have to commit at least one more player to the breakdown to secure the ball. They send in one wave and the rest are out seagulling in the backs. They must maintain possession first.
Ballymore went Wendell mad as he made it on with 25 minutes to go. Most of the crowd was salivating for his first touch and the chant of Wendell, Wendell went up around me, but I didnít join in. They cheered when he regathered the ball for a penalty, but I didnít join in. But boy did I piss myself at his first proper touch (knock-on) when the deathly silence reigned.
Ramsamy (IC) got bumped and Tune moved to OC to accommodate Wendell. Tune and Latham kept organising him into position. To be fair he did have a good impact and was very hungry for work. He has the ability to bust the line and draw the defence. This opened up a few opportunities. Next year watch for Latham to be hanging off his shoulder as this is going to lead to a few tries for the Reds. The question has been asked if he is Australiaís Lomu? The simple answer is no. He does more work and is willing to get involved.
Qld scored 5 tries and butchered at least 3 other opportunities. If they can keep this sort of attack, but toughen up the scrum and R&M area (oh John Eales where for out thou) they should easily reach the semis in next years Super 12.
Qld won 34-17 and luckily for the Tahs Warwick had a shocker with the boot. If Flatley had been there directing play the score would have been bigger. Edmunds kicked 4 penalties and Barge to be honest thatís all they deserved.
How do you know a Qlder is lying? His lips are moving.