The first of the NRL State of Origin matches on Wednesday night ended up being a pretty dour affair if you were wanting a lot of scoring action or fireworks between the teams. Each side completed most of their sets of tackles, but there was very few exciting runs to get the crowd on its feet. There were mistakes from both sides, but it seemed they played conservatively waiting for the other side to make an error on which they could capitalise. NSW had a try disallowed late in the game and, given the video replay, it is hard to see how the linesman awarded the try in the first place. There was a flurry of bodies and the ball was not clear even on slow motion replay. I think the linesman had a guess based on the momentum of the NSW player (Morris).
Laurie Daly came out after the game and complained about the referees, but based on my untrained eye, the mistakes went both ways so his comments can probably be put down to the protestations of a losing coach.
It is amazing how the Friday night AFL game can set the conversation for the weekend and the following week with the Lindsay Thomas free kicks sparking a tsunami of comment and analysis. I have spoken about those free kicks before and how difficult it is for the umpires to adjudicate. Most teams know who the principal perpetrators are and when confronted with those players the tackler should concentrate on going in as low as possible and forget about pinning the arms because these players seem loathe to release the ball. The result should be a holding the ball decision against the perpetrator.
I must say I have to agree with the over analyser, Dermott Brereton, that Thomas took it to a new level last Friday night when he backed into the Swans defender and then dragged his arm down over his shoulder as well. In discussions on Saturday, Brereton did go through the main protagonists and did not just single out Thomas. The comment was made that we are happy when it is our team that is the recipient of the free kick, but livid when it is the other side. I am upset because no one at Essendon has developed the skill and we need a few gifts in our forward line!
Have a great weekend!