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In this, the foul year of no one quite knows what next, 2020, thank God for Queensland.

For 40 minutes, Origin didn't feel like Origin.

It was fast. As Andrew Johns noted in Channel Nine commentary, "It's a different Origin. A lot faster." But it wasn't Origin fast.

The bone-jarring collisions of the interstate game were replaced instead on a superbly dry Adelaide Oval track with wide open ruck space. 

With one third of the 34 players lining up for their first game since September, Origin's typical mile-a-minute opening went to the dogs.

A mongrel initial kick-off even wobbled its way to the turf via Damien Cook's scrambling attempt to reel it in.

At the same time on the other side of the world, Donald Trump was re-writing the book on democracy.  

In Adelaide the Maroons middle men, undoubtedly their strength on paper, proved a target on the paddock.

The Blues' best of the first half – Cook, James Tedesco, Junior Paulo and Daniel Saifiti – made their mileage through the middle third.

Queensland strangely played away from it, swinging wide early and often in lieu of in-form battering rams Josh Papalii and Christian Welch.

The Blues, starting as heavy favourites with the bookmakers, finished the half 10-0 leaders.

Over the past decade, NSW had won 10 of 14 games when ahead or level at the break.

The script was being played out as expected, but as has been so often the case in 2020, bizarrely so.

In the City of Churches though, a Maroons miracle ended up being the most predictable of all turns, from the most Queensland of all sources.

The first, Saint Wayne.

Called upon through a late Hail Mary when Kevin Walters moved on to his old Red Hill stomping ground, Bennett in turn called upon a slew of rookies in scenes reminiscent of his last great Origin boilover in 2001.

As Queensland marched into the sheds at the break, former Blues mentor Phil Gould made more than one point about Bennett doing his best work during those precious half-time junctures.

Bennett had one of his best when asked to call upon what he told those same first gamers in the sheds.

"I'm at that stage of my life I can't remember. I don't know but I'm going to try again."

Wayne 101.

Restoring even more normality to proceedings, Queensland's game breaker being the unlikeliest of the 17 on the paddock.

Kurt Capewell wasn't even in the side until a few hours before kick-off.

Journeyman, utility, Charleville-born, he didn't make his NRL debut until he was 22. He lived out of a caravan out the back of Ben Walker's place as a teen when he started at Ipswich.

He once pushed through the pain of a ruptured testicle to keep playing out a Cronulla finals campaign in 2018.

If you can find someone more fit for the underdog Maroons tag, park him out the front of Suncorp, cast him in bronze and be done with it now.

Capewell found himself starting at left centre only after Brenko Lee pulled up lame upon arrival in Adelaide.

He found himself out of position along with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui when Josh Addo-Carr scored in the 20th minute.

But as Queensland warmed to their task with that old familiar feeling, Capewell found himself in everything.

Haggling Nathan Cleary as he kicked long. Intercepting a pass when the Blues swung right with an overlap.

And first doggedly palming away Clint Gutherson.

Then awkwardly finding himself in the backfield with time and space running out, his own dodgy groin muscle along for the ride.

Finally, gloriously, nudging the Steeden on the run with a right foot that spoke to the Brisbane Lions sizing him up for a junior contract as a kid, somehow directly into the path of AJ Brimson.

The comeback was on.

In the most typically Queensland-fashion possible, the Maroons engineered yet another upset for the ages.

Finally, something predictable.


Game two tickets start from $45 for members and $49 for general public or get your wig and experience the Blatchy’s effect from $85 for members or $90 for the general public

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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