Come State of Origin time we all think we know a thing or two about footy.
The Maitland Mercury invited Maitland Pickers premiership coach Matt Lantry to cast his eye over Wednesday's decider from the anxious pre-match preparations, to get a coach's inside view. He he takes us inside the head of a coach and takes us through the key moments in Queensland's triumph.
It's one hour before kick off and QLD make a host of changes, the head coach is generally the first person to receive the opposition team list from the manager ...
You view the changes and then when they're not 1-17 you start to work your way through what way they've gone. Does doubt start to creep into the coach's mind with the way you've prepared around a particular player or edge? Does doubt creep into your mind as a player, knowing for example, if you're Gutherson you may have planned all week and watched video on Capewell and all of a sudden, he's playing in the back row. That aside you must back your plans as a coach, try not to adjust things just because a few changes have come through on the team list and then reassure your players to stick to our plan.
One of the key changes was switching Gagai to left centre to accommodate Brenko Lee on the right. NSW would have had no clue on until kick-off.
In the early exchanges you want to see your team build into the game.
- It's clear QLD know their plan and they're executing it perfectly. Early yardage shifts are working effectively as we see the QLD forwards passing the ball to Cherry Evans and Munster out the back keeping the NSW defence square allowing some free space on the edge to make some valuable metres coming out of their own end. NSW at times tried to play similar sorts of shape in mid zone territory off Trbojevic but QLD's aggressive defense on the edge stifles the space and time NSW have.
- The early shift movements coming out when done effectively can really drain your opposition's energy because it forces them to cover more metreage than they normally would in their defensive line. This can be telling at the back end of a half or at times at the back end of the game. It's often you see people criticise the lack of support play or quality of attacking shape by teams that have defended for long periods, but put simply they just don't have the energy to compete and execute the way they normally would, it takes a massive toll.
- In Origin your opportunities are limited. QLD are winning the field position battle early (most of QLD's kick returns are starting around their own 20-30 metre line, while NSW kick returns are back on their goal line - 10 metre zone). When an opportunity comes through a penalty, six again call or an opposition error you need to make sure you make the most of it. Not all the time is that coming away with six points, it's staying patient and grinding away in some decent field position with repeat sets, minimising the territorial gain of your opposition and really applying the blow touch to them.
- QLD's first try comes on the back of a penalty, running the ball on the last play catching NSW for numbers. Munster takes advantage of a late retreat out of the tackle on the goal line by a NSW defender. NSW strike back though on the back of a penalty then a six again call which leads to great field position allowing for an attacking kick at the end of the set. Allen can't diffuse the bomb and the Blues are in to level the score up. Key point both tries came off the next set from a penalty.
- At this point both coaches would be happy with the way their teams have started. One thing they would have noticed is the intensity and physicality of the game is way above the first two games. In the back of the coach's mind would be their interchange plans and making sure they get their rotations right to minimise fatiguing players through the middle that can bring about opportunity for attacking teams.
NSW Half Time:
NSW would be happy to go in at just 12 - 6. They've lacked field position and an even split of position though penalties and some errors but have defended really really well!!
I'd be addressing the following things:
- NSW back five need to contribute more coming out of their own end. NSW forwards have worked tirelessly, we need our wingers and centres particularly to find some more involvement to help our forwards recharge a little during some yardage sets
- NSW are either one out and getting bashed up through the middle or wanting to play and being dominated by QLD's aggressive defence. I'd be encouraging our middles to play more direct with some chain passing (passing once or twice together) or some little block plays off Cook to a half out the back to find the middle with a pass a little wider of the ruck.
- If they do play out the back from Trbojevic they need to play either a little earlier or slightly deeper on those small shift movements. Playing earlier or deeper buys time, you're not looking to score tries off these shapes, you want to find easier metreage in your set and break up the defensive line by generating some ruck speed. NSW are easy pickings with how late they're playing at the line and how flat they are running on their sweep lines
- Paulo's injection into the game was good! He created some second phase play with some quality off loads which breaks up the QLD defensive line. We need to see more of that from our middles to create some opportunities for our spine.
- On the flip side of that QLD are offloading far too often. NSW need to work harder on their first contact and sticking on the ball to prevent the offload and get the tackle sorted together.
- Final comment would be about patience, discipline and field position and then taking the opportunities.
QLD Half Time:
QLD would be over the moon with their first half, a little disappointed with some missed opportunities but the energy they've drained in the NSW team is massive and can leverage off that if they continue to play the same way in the second half.
- The coaching staff would be just reiterating their plans and reminding them of key players within the NSW line up particularly Cook around the ruck
- You'd also remind them that at any point possession and field position can switch around so having the right attitude to defending for periods of time is vital.
- Final point is challenging them mentally, playing out the 80 minutes and competing on every play
In the second half QLD start fast and NSW again struggle for good field position.
- By chance the Blues finally get a break and QLD make an error. Key message here from the coach in stay patient, polish on our play five option is vital, maximise this opportunity for good field position. Yeo makes the error off the scrum, your filthy as the coach you just can't make those errors at this level. The pressure on QLD is released and instantly turned back on NSW. You know how crucial that error is. The game ebbs and flows and in a desperate attempt to shift momentum Clearly goes all-out on an early kick and nails a 40/20. Huge play and on the back of that you see the team lift with energy. The Blues work through their shapes but again let QLD off the hook with an error in the set. You start to wonder how more opportunities you may get...
- Key messaging from QLD mid way through the second half would be their kicking game and kick chase is what gets them home. Continue to attack down NSW right edge, Addo Carr seems to be a little all over the place defensively and Yeo is struggling with his lateral movement on the edge. The Blues are also struggling to handle the offloads through the middle third.
- Master stroke played by QLD to leave Harry Grant on the field and still getting Jake Friend back into the game. Grant is causing NSW enormous headaches. I would think QLD would have planned to get Grant off to get Friend back on but he's going too well. That's adapting to the game and being flexible with your plans
- The Blues put themselves under pressure and QLD make them pay with creating opportunities. The game should have been wrapped up with 10 minutes to go but QLD just can't finish it giving NSW a small glimmer of hope. When your chasing points in the final stages of the game you need to play some footy and it's actually when the Blues looked a little free, QLD also are looking slightly fragile which assists NSW here. QLD seem to be playing to protect their lead and that can contribute to errors.
- Taking the two with six minutes on the clock. Some people would debate whether this was the right thing to do or should they tray to shoot to score a try. You need to factor in the time on the clock, once that goal is kicked you only now need to score one try and not two in the remaining time, so the right call was made in my opinion. QLD defend well though for the final four minutes and end up holding on for the victory.
NSW were out coached and out played
It was concerning mid way through the first half that NSW didn't have a plan B to combat the defensive approach that QLD took which NSW hadn't seen in this series so hats off to QLD here.
Consider the NRL coaching experience on both teams:
NSW - Brad Fittler - 58, Danny Buderus - 6, Greg Alexander - 0, Craig Fitzgibbon - 0 (Roosters Assistant Coach) TOTAL 64 NRL games coaching experience.
QLD - Bennett - 857, Neil Henry - 248, Mal Meninga - 197 TOTAL 1302 NRL games coaching experience.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- NSW have a mantra at the moment that you have to have played Origin to be on their coaching staff. It's one thing to know Origin, it's another to analyse the game and break it down during the 80 minutes and adapt and it was clear NSW couldn't do this last night? Do they need a senior figure on their staff that can do this for Fittler who's up with current trends of the game?
- It's easy to say in hindsight but did NSW get the balance on their bench right? Yeo as your outside back cover if you get an injury come on... Even if Tedesco stays on and we were chasing points imagine if we could have thrown a Papenhuyzen out there to try and spark something.
- Don't underestimate the travel on the day as well. QLD travelled to Sydney for game 2 on the day and their performance lacked energy. Flip that seven days later and NSW looked flat in early stages. Was it due to the travel on the day? NSW missed a valuable opportunity in game 1 they win that game and last night is a dead rubber, again we were ambushed and out coached in game 1.