By Scott Woodward of www.ChampionProfits.com
I cannot believe how many people are saying that NSW should have won last night against Queensland. Let there be no doubt that the best team won.
There is very little between the two teams, but when it has to, the cream generally rises to the top in great rugby league games, and Origin III, 2012 was one of the best sporting physical encounters I have witnessed.
The most important aspect of a game that I analyse when I do my ratings is to look at the key spine of a team and that was the difference between the Blues and the Maroons last night.
Jonathan Thurston yet again underlined why he is the greatest player since Andrew Johns, while Greg Inglis and Cam Smith found near their best rating when it counted. Cooper Cronk was classy enough to kick the winning 40 metre field goal and his organisation was superb, but I still rate Daly Cherry-Evans a better number 7. Cronks tactical kicks and runs in general play were poor, but his relationship with Smith and Slater should ensure he will back up next year.
I thought the inclusion of Corey Parker for Harrison was a bonus for the Maroons and he did not let anyone down with a wonderful work ethic and brilliant pass to Thurston to score a try. Lets not forget that the Maroons clinched their 7th straight series win without Billy Slater.
I have been very critical of Blues coach Ricky Stuart who always gets every rails run with the media, but overall I thought he finally got the selections right. I rate him a poor NRL coach, but managing an Origin team suits him, providing he can seek and listen to selection advice from people who understand the game and watch all the games.
Whoever coaches the Blues next year will have the same problem of trying to find a halfback.
I have been saying now for two years that Mitchell Pearce is an outstanding club player, but he simply is not good enough to carry such a crucial position as halfback at the top level. The problem is that NSW do not have anyone who is better and I include the Broncos number 7 Peter Wallace. Todd Carney is not Thurston but he will hang on to the 6 shirt and I would expect that Josh Dugan will be the new fullback next year, although I have a high regard for Brett Stewart who was solid during the series, but maybe solid is not good enough when you have to take on Slater.