State of Origin III: Talking points of the game

HIS timing was slightly off, but Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk again showed he is arguably the most valuable player in the team.

The structure he brings to the attack, allowing Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis in particular to work their magic, should not be underestimated. Cronk's absence with a broken arm may have been the difference in the series.

YOU only get one chance to make a good first impression, and rookie Origin referee Gerard Sutton made a good one last night.

Unlike Shayne Hayne in game two, he kept a good 10m, penalised attempts to slow down the play and wasn't intimidated by Blues skipper Paul Gallen or his partner-in-crime Greg Bird.

Sutton's brother Bernard was one of the video referees - his younger brother Chris is also close to making his NRL debut.

THE New South Wales goal-line defence was one of the key factors in its wins in games one and two, and it was again outstanding last night, particularly in the first half.

Maroons centre Greg Inglis (twice) and winger Darius Boyd were held up over the line before a Daly Cherry-Evans line break 40m out led to the first try.

BLUES centre Josh Dugan is finally making headlines for what he does on the field rather than off it. Three more-than creditable displays in this series showed he should be a regular part of the NSW team for years to come.

NSW hooker Robbie Farah's suggestion that a series win should see a predominance of Blues players in the Australian side for the Four Nations team is a long way off the mark.

Don't be surprised if the team for the opening game of that series (barring injuries), includes a maximum of seven players from NSW.





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