2:30pm, Sun 5th May 2002
Referee: Mark Lawrence
QLD 31 : NSW 24 (14 : 11 half time)
Ahh the bittersweet sting of the local derby. The match that gives you bragging rights for the year, or in Qld case for the entire Super 12 history. For non-Aussies consider it like the rugby world cup. It’s the only time when you can climb on the soapbox and launch into a verbal tirade and then claim, “We are number one!”
Yes that’s right the traditional build-up for the Australian derby was in full swing last week. The annual Qld lunch where past Qld defenders of the faith meet to provide inspiration for the current generation was held, where yet again the road surface (Tars) are put verbally into their place, before they are smashed on the field of honour.
Memories of past victories are thrust into the media, “NSW has never beaten Qld in the Super 12” and claims like “Narrabri is really in Qld” from Latham emphasise how much this battle royal means to the maroon warrior. Bugger the season if we don’t win this game the whole Super 12 has been a waste of time.
This is the game all Qld and NSW players want to play in. Injuries will mean nothing and an attempt by all players to get onto the pitch no matter what is wrong. Alright both Qld and the flower power sides lost two people to injuries. For Qld it was both Kefu’s which was a bitter blow, however two of their brothers were playing for Souths who kicked the Canberra Vikings arse in the warm up match. While the Mardi grass outfit reject wearers were without both Grey (season over) and Waugh.
The traditional interstate barbs are thrust: ‘NSW has never beaten Qld in the Super 12 and it will remain that way!’ and ‘Who won the Sheffield Shield?’ between people who are spawned on either side of the state boundaries. The scores from past Super 12 matches are shoved into NSW faces.
1996 Reds 15 beat NSW 13 1997 Reds 26 humiliated NSW 16 1998 Reds 17 had a moral victory against NSW 17 1999 Reds 30 slaughtered NSW 13 2000 Reds 31 pummelled NSW 16 2001 Reds 25 ***** slapped NSW 20
Then on to the game hosted on sacred Ballymore turf which has not been defiled by NSW in the Super 12 ever. Before the match starts a stirring tribute is payed to Damien Smith who represented QLD, 117 times before his retirement. (How many NSW players have ever played 100 games for their state? None! ) A video tribute is played highlighting his tries for Qld, however they didn’t include the famous incident with Campo that would have whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Even better was the fact that it looks like they have finally disposed of the mascot as it was a screaming embarrassment and the Tahs would have fallen over laughing if they had seen it.
Qld always pulls out the traditional jersey for this match as NSW (or Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. Bugger the rest according to their state government) has learnt that maroon means death. It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dogs, they see the jumper and they know they will be defeated. What a mental edge.
Qld gets the ball from the kick off and dominates the opening minutes with simple Sailor still failing to cross the try line against anyone but the Bulls, damn Whitaker. Flatley nails the opening points after ordinary discipline by NSW and this is just the entrée before Latham humiliates his home state with a fantastic try that cements his starting role in the Wallabies.
Qld is playing an expansive game and the passing quality by both Rauluni and Flatley allows the Qld backs to get into space. They are using the ball to beat the man and its working! The long clean passes are sensational. While Herbert is again providing his characteristic late charge for the Wallaby 13 jumper by playing the house down.
Flatley then misses his next two kicks while Burke gets his first and then follows suit and misses his next two. Flatley then continues to punish the flower powers indiscretions and starts to nail the kicks. While Burke is clearly offside again!
After 30 minutes Qld drops its guard and allows that impure side into the 22. Harris then continues his love affair with Ballymore and scoots over for a try. This one unlike last year’s efforts, in the Bob Templeton game, was genuine.
After half time Qld again get the ball to do the talking and Latham exploits the NSW defence to set up Roe for a beautiful try. The conversion by Flatley, who is playing all over McRae, is a scorcher from the sideline, which bisects the black dot.
Burke counters with a penalty but all that does is piss off Qld and once they get back into NSW territory, Pelesasa again highlights the weaknesses in the ‘flower power’ defence and charges in for a try. Flatley again slots another beautiful penalty and its 29-17.
NSW counters again and that bloody Harris is in for another try. **** that’s his third try at Ballymore in the last 2 years. Burke then kicks the penalty and its 29-24.
Flatley counters with another penalty for NSW being offside again, like they were all match, and takes the lead out to 7 points (31-24). Qld then are able to hold out NSW for the rest of a very tense match and put the Tahs back into their place for yet another season. The bragging rights are secured for yet another season and the humiliation for the Tahs supporters continues.
The major disappointment for the rest of the world would be that the game didn’t develop into a free for all which could have sidelined a lot of potential Wallabies.
Now the state animosity can be returned to its normal level and yes I can barrack for the NSW side during the finals till of course they play Qld again :)
Side note: I felt dirty after Friday night when I actually started to support the Blues, with 10 minutes to go, but only to get the draw and I still don’t think I have managed to remove the guilt. Shuddder! Shudder! However, it would have made Qld’s run into the grand final a lot easier. Oh well it sets it up for a great clash on Saturday night. Go the Reds get third place, and then crush the Tahs the following week.