Bennett engineers Origin second-half blitz

Pamela Whaley
·2-min read

Wayne Bennett is well known for his halftime speeches and it must have been one hell of a sermon from the Queensland coach on Wednesday night.

Prior to the game Bennett told broadcaster Channel Nine his job was to convince nervous Maroons players that State of Origin was not State of Origin - but just another game of football.

The problem was, seven of Queensland's starting 17 had not played a game of rugby league in more than five weeks after missing out on the NRL finals.

And, as has been the recent trend, Queensland were down 10-0 at the break at Adelaide Oval.

So Bennett warmed up his vocal chords and prepared to share some wisdom, as he has done so many times before.

Because he knew the Blues would be in the lead, he was prepared.

Under Brad Fittler, NSW have now not lost a first half in seven matches.

But not since 2001 had the Maroons had the chance to pull off a feat this special, and Bennett reminded his players as much.

All they had to do was play more direct footy.

They had gone into the series opener with eight debutants - the most since Bennett blooded 10 Origin newcomers in game one of 2001 in response to a Blues whitewash the year before.

And just like those Maroons grabbed the glory 19 years ago with a shock 34-16 win in Brisbane, their enthusiasm in the second half overrode a more experienced and in-form NSW team in Adelaide for am 18-14 win.

Debutant AJ Brimson scored Queensland's first nine minutes after the restart, and four minutes later Xavier Coates - who has played just 15 NRL games - touched down after Dane Gagai did the lead up work.

By the time Cameron Munster toed a ball through soft defence to score in the 66th minute the Blues looked a far cry from the dominant force many expected would take the field.

A late try to Josh Addo-Carr - his second of the match - made it interesting for the Blues, but it was Queensland's energy that took them across the line.

The Blues had only three debutants for game one, with just Payne Haas, Jake Trbojevic and Tyson Frizell missing the finals.

If only they had not all missed the second half.