One hundred games into the concept’s existence, and the intensity of State of Origin only seems to be growing by the year – just look at last night’s epic encounter!
In a match that saw the Blues get up on the score-board courageously for their first Game One win at Suncorp since 2003, a glance at the stat sheet shows both Queensland and New South Wales split only by the slimmest of margins in key areas.
The Blues seemed to dominate the first half when it came to enthusiasm – going into the break leading 10-4 on the back of a brilliant effort from fullback Jarryd Hayne to plant the ball over the line from an awkward position.
The second half saw Queensland return serve when it came to the enthusiasm stakes – pinning the visitors in their own half with some determined attack from the likes of forwards such as Aiden Guerra and Matt Scott.
Queensland continuously spread the ball wide on the Blues line, giving Greg Inglis plenty of time with the pill in hand. But not even Inglis could break through some doggedly determined New South Wales defence on the night – the Blues holding on right up until the final whistle to record the win.
Spotlight – Greg Inglis
It’s unusual for Greg Inglis to be making these kinds of metres when playing at centre. Now more accustomed to playing in the open space that fullback provides, GI managed to notch up 149 metres with the ball in hand, while also making two line-breaks and 16 tackles for one of the highest work-rates in the Maroon back-line. Inglis was only out-done by Billy Slater, who made a whopping 220 metres at fullback.
Other Rabbitohs wearing Maroon included Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen. Te'o amassed 79 metres and 11 tackles, while Chris McQueen made 46 metres and 16 tackles during the Origin opener.
The TV Numbers
But the numbers don’t stop there, with the biggest opening game audience in Holden State of Origin Series history – a combined metropolitan and regional audience of 4.058 million viewers – tuning in for the 100th Origin encounter.
Last night’s match on the Nine, WIN and NBN Networks was:
· The highest rating show on Australian television so far in 2014;
· The most-watched series opener in Origin history (up from 3.972m in 2013);
· The third most-watched Origin match all of all time, after the 2013 and 2012 series deciders;
· Attracted the biggest ever Sydney audience (1.228 million; up 6% from 1.158m in 2013);
· Achieved the highest network share of the year (44.6% across the 5 City Metro)
NRL CEO Mr Dave Smith was ecstatic with the result.
“This was a special night in Origin history and the players deserve congratulations for the spectacle they provided for the fans at Suncorp Stadium and the millions of viewers around the world,” said NRL CEO, Mr Dave Smith.
“I also wish to thank the Nine Network’s Wide World of Sports for their world-class broadcast.
“The opener to the telecast was simply brilliant and set the stage for one of the classic Origin games.
“Like every other Rugby League fan, I can’t wait for Game II in Sydney.”
Last night’s match:
· Recorded an audience of 2.596 million viewers across the 5 City Metro market (up from 2.522m in 2013).
· Recorded an average audience of 747,000 in Brisbane, with a peak of 810,00, and achieved the largest regional Queensland audience ever (563,584), up 14% on Game 1 in 2013;
· Achieved the biggest Adelaide audience for an opening match of the series (86,000), up 4% on 2013;
· Achieved the biggest Victorian regional audience for a series opener (118,083, up 10% from Game 1 last year);
· Recorded an audience of 109,000 on GEM in Perth, up 71% on Game 1 last year.
Game II of the 2014 Holden State of Origin Series will be played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, June 18.
Fans are encouraged to secure their seats now from Ticketek on 132 849, at Ticketek outlets or online at www.nrl.com/origin.