December 4, 2021

It took the legendary Bill Harrigan 14 years to amass 21 Origin caps… It’s taken Gerard Sutton just 8 years to surpass him

3 min read

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

Hindsight is a wonderful thing – many good experts and all fans in New South Wales believed their team was unbeatable and on the way to a series whitewash in Game III on the Gold Coast.

The Blues had destroyed, and quite frankly, embarrassed the Maroons in the first two matches.

Aggregate score: NSW 76-6.

Under the current rules, that includes the awful ‘6 again’, the Blues appeared unbeatable. Not only do NSW have the best players, but they have also gelled supremely.

One of the best representative squads ever assembled.

Something drastic needed to happen for the Maroons to even get close to NSW and stop the rot.

Incredibly, QLD held on for the most unlikely of wins.

20-18 to the Maroons.

“QLD spirit” and all that.

If Game III was officiated the same way as the last two, the Blues win comfortably.

Yes they were missing their first-choice halves and their replacements weren’t very good but the Blues were always fighting a losing battle.

The Maroons sat in the ruck all night.

At times it looked more like the Wallabies vs France union Test match played the other night in Melbourne.

It was slow.

Really slow.

Interviewed in the coach’s box by Channel Nine during the game, frustrated Blues coach Brad Fittler couldn’t help but acknowledge how much QLD were getting away with.

“They’re laying all over us.”

Right on cue, a QLD player flailed around for an eternity, not allowing the Blue to play the ball.

“Just like that” Fittler muttered.

Referee Sutton called play on.

There were fifteen ‘6 agains’ in last night’s game.

The ones that went to QLD helped them no end.

Referee Gerard Sutton gave a few to the Blues but they actually disadvantaged the visitors.

With the Maroons up 2-0 early in the piece, NSW attacked the QLD line. QLD infringed and instead of giving the Blues the right to decide whether to level it up, Sutton instead gave them a ‘6 again’.

This is State of Origin.

Australian rugby league’s showpiece event.

Whether the Blues would have taken the tap or not doesn’t matter.

At another point, NSW were battling to get out of their own end.

Instead of receiving a penalty and a clearing kick-for-touch, Sutton gave them two set restarts.

Later… and down by 8 points, Sutton refused to give NSW a penalty which could have brought them back to within a converted try. They got a set restart, didn’t score and the Maroons went down the other end of the field and scored themselves.

Former NSW five-eigth Jamie Soward was seething on Twitter.

“Someone please tell #sutton it’s #origin and we don’t need the 6 again rule to be applied 200 times. Seriously let the boys play.”

NSW’s greatest ever coach Phil Gould was also on Twitter last night and implied that only one team was ever winning Game III.

The great Richie Callender tweeted to ‘Gus’…

“You were right Gus. For the betterment of Origin Qld need to win this game. It seems others may have thought the same.”

Gould quoted the post with, “100%”

It took legendary whistle blower Bill Harrigan fourteen years to amass 21 Origin caps.

Last night’s Game III saw Sutton surpass Harrigan as the most-capped Origin referee in history with 22.

It’s taken Sutton just 8 years.

In fact, since his first Origin game in 2014 – Sutton has never been dropped.

One of the greatest runs of form in the history of rugby league.

From Harrigan’s debut in the Origin arena in 1991 through to his last match in 2003, six separate referees officiated in that period.

Even more surprising is that the clear, undisputed top ref in our sport Matt Cecchin hasn’t adjudicated SOO since 2017.

The NRL needed a QLD victory last night.

They got it.

@woodward_curtis

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