The spectacle that is State of Origin was almost ruined on Wednesday night as a record 12 penalties were blown in the first half alone.
Fans and commentators were left fuming during the Origin decider at ANZ Stadium when the first half was constantly disrupted by the referee’s whistle.
It was the most penalties in the first half of an Origin match in 23 years, meaning the game was very stop-start and the 8-8 scoreline reflected that.
One Queensland penalty drew particular ire when Tyson Frizell was deemed to have flopped in order to drive Dane Gagai back into the in-goal - even though the Maroons winger already appeared to be destined for that fate.
“The tackle had been made, if I am reading the referee correctly,” Ray Warren said in commentary.
“The third tackler in has been deemed to have flopped in the tackle.”
However Phil Gould was gobsmacked: “He had no effect on it.”
“The referees are interfering in this game too much tonight,” he later added.
“The first two games weren’t like this but tonight they want to stamp their authority.”
Queensland legend Paul Vautin said: “Some of the penalties have been bewildering.”
“They’re going to ruin the game if they keep it up.”
Others on social media were equally as alarmed.
Penalties are ruining a great game— Anthony Grima (@Anthony93075386) July 10, 2019
Origin is a game that needs to flow! Refs, interfering has no place in this game!— trevor keyser (@KeyserTrevor) July 10, 2019
Absolutely, no advantage applied. Take the pea out of his whistle— BobD (@bob_dragisic) July 10, 2019
Can the refs stop ruining the game!— Steven Glass (@StevenG07042626) July 10, 2019
10 penalties in 27 minutes including a howler to deny NSW a repeat set. This is what happens when the worst referees get given the biggest game of the year so far. #Origin— Matt Attard (@mattard90) July 10, 2019
Thankfully the second half was refereed much more leniently, with just two further penalties opening up the game and resulting in the 26-20 final scoreline.
“They might have got a little tap on the shoulder,” Vautin said.
Gould added: “We don’t come to see how well these referees referee we come to see these great athletes play.”
“Keep the ball in play, let the (players) decide the game.”
Miracle last-gasp try
James Tedesco has crossed with 32 seconds left on the clock to give NSW a stunning 26-20 victory in the State of Origin decider to defend their shield.
In one of the most dramatic finishes in Origin history, scores were locked at 20-all in the final minute on Wednesday when Mitchell Pearce had the ball in his hands.
His looping cutout for Tom Trbojevic resulted in Blake Ferguson tiptoeing down the sideline, before finding Tedesco inside for the game-winner.
It came after Queensland forward Josh Papalii crossed in the 77th minute and debutant Ethan Lowe nailed a pressure conversion to level the game.
However, Tedesco, who was later awarded with the Wally Lewis medal as the player of the series, proved to be the hero with his miracle finish.
The dramatic ending snapped a run of seven straight defeats in Origin deciders for the Blues, dating back to the start of the Maroons' dynasty in 2006.