Queensland v. New South Wales, Meninga v. Daley, Maroons v. Blues. It's the game which stands the hairs on the back of a mere mortals neck to attention, regardless of which hemisphere you call home.
The thirty-fifth State of Origin series (game 103) got underway at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney with an intriguing battle of the two old enemies. Queensland were slight favourites (-2 on the handicap) after their big win in game three at the Suncorp Stadium last season, but with last years series win under their belt, New South Wales had plenty of confidence that they would be the ones celebrating at the final hooter.
The excitement was palpable amongst the eighty thousand plus in attendance, this was going to be brutal.
Day two of the Kingstone Press Championship Summer Bash saw fans of the remaining six teams make their way to Blackpool. With five of the six sides being represented heralding from West Yorkshire, the M62 and M6 were awash with the colours of Dewsbury, Batley, Hunslet, Doncaster and Featherstone. The shortest journey was for those wearing the red and white of Leigh, and they were the ones looking for their side to maintain their incredible winning run.
Dewsbury and Batley were to battle it out in mid table, while Doncaster were looking for their first win of the season against Hunslet Hawks. The potential game of the weekend was the last to grace the Bloomfield Road pitch, where Featherstone Rovers needed a win over the top placed Leigh to consolidate their all-important top four place.
The Kingstone Press Championship Summer Bash descended on Blackpool with three intriguing matches scheduled for the opening days feast of rugby league.
First up was the Cumbrian derby as Whitehaven faced Workington with two of the bottom three coming together. The second match featured the Broncos against the Eagles, both sides hoping for a finish in the top four. The last game was a full-blooded West Yorkshire derby with Halifax, from fifth, taking on the Bradford Bulls in second.
With an extra weekend to prepare, and backed by a larger than average home crowd thanks to reduced entry prices, everything was in place for a Red Devils win to lift them into the top eight ahead of the Magic Weekend.
Tomy Smith and his Warrington Wolves had different ideas, and following the midweek departure of Micky Higham, they had Daryl Clark at hooker and welcomed the influential Stefan Ratchford back to the ranks after he missed out on last weeks cup win over the Dewsbury Rams.
With fourth against six, a gritty West Yorkshire derby, and both sides having a point to prove after disappointing cup exits last weekend, this was never likely to be a game for the purists.
What the Tigers and Giants served up was a game of high intensity, plenty of errors, some poor misjudgements and a great big dollop of late match controversy.
The unsung stars of tonight's show were wearing suits and sat in the video booth.
The disciplinary panel were pretty busy as a result of the weekends Ladbrokes Challenge Cup action as they ploughed through a hours of footage to investigate thirty-nine incidents. Of the thirty-nine, ten involved players from Championship and Championship 1 teams and the remainder were Super League players.
After their deliberations just three of the offences were deemed worthy of charges and all three players will attend disciplinary meetings tonight to determine their fate.
Supporters of Saints, Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Wildcats will be the ones interested in the outcome.
The draw for the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup had placed its biggest banana skin under the feet of the Wakefield Wildcats as a Leigh Centurions side, unbeaten in their last twenty-four outings, descended on West Yorkshire as far from underdogs.
The top side in the Championship were up against the team well adrift and propping up Super League, and whose only win since round two of Super League was against Championship opposition, when they rode the challenge of Halifax in the last round.
This was a chance for Wakefield to keep their season alive and get a much needed confidence boost, for Leigh Centurions it was their opportunity to test whether they could compete against Super League sides and claim their second top flight scalp in this seasons competition.
We also include the quarter Final draw.
The tie of the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup saw an in-form Huddersfield Giants side travel to Headingley to take on the league leaders and cup holders, Leeds Rhinos.
The two sides met three weeks ago in Super League, and despite the Rhinos holding a convincing 22-4 half time lead, the spoils were shared in a 24-24 draw after a valiant Giants fightback.
Brian McDermott had selected Kevin Sinfield after leaving him out for the last two weeks losses and Ryan Hall also returned to the Leeds ranks. On paper there was very little to choose between the sides and the stage was set for a cracker.
An all Super League Challenge Cup match up between Wigan Warriors and Hull KR did little to demand the neutrals attention after the 60-0 drubbing which the Warriors handed out to their visitors just a short fortnight ago.
With the DW Stadium pitch undergoing maintenance, the game was moved to the Leigh Sports Village and SKY select the game for live televising. Just over four and a half thousand souls, some of them using free tickets handed out by the Robins after their heavy defeat a fortnight ago, braved the elements to see whether KR could upset the bookies, the pundits and all expectations.
There were just charges from twenty-two incidents considered by the disciplinary panel as a result of the six Super League round fourteen matches held last weekend.
Adrian Morley of Salford Red Devils can possibly count himself fortunate to have been charged with a 'minor contact' from his laying on of the head in the 28th minute of the Devils game with Huddersfield Giants.
Morley was offered an Early Guilty Plea which he accepted and the committee agreed no further action.
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