Origin ain't over until fat streaker sprints

ADRIAN PROSZENKO
Last updated 06:32 18/07/2013
Streaker
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STREAK CONTINUES: The streak continues for Queensland but it was another streak which almost cost the Maroons dearly.

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The streak continues.

Matt Scott crashed over for what should have been the deciding play with two minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock, and it was almost time for the fat lady to sing.

Instead, it was a fat streaker who almost decided proceedings.

After hurdling the fence, the advertising hoardings and evading numerous security guards and the players, he ran 95 metres upfield. He fell flat on his face, a result of exhaustion and, presumably alcohol.

It is understood that the trespasser greased his body with vaseline-like substance making it difficult for him to be tackled by authorities.

He had done it before at a qualifying final between the Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors in 2011 at Allianz Stadium.

On Wednesday night ANZ Stadium and NRL officials confirmed that a man was being questioned by police and faces a lifetime ban from both the venue and rugby league matches.

It is understood that the man did not co-operate with police during the interview.

On Wednesday night, the streaker landed splat in the middle of play and, NSW defenders claimed, prevented them from stopping a rampaging Scott. Seven years of Origin football could have come to this.

The decision was referred upstairs. The video referees decided that, with a fat, naked man on the field and numerous security guards in tow, it was an obstruction call no one could complain about.

Mercifully, it didn't decide the game. Should the Blues have scored in those final, frenetic minutes, some nude fool may have done what countless Blues players couldn't - stop the, ahem, Bananabenders.

NSW coach Laurie Daley labelled the incident as "silly behaviour".

"What more do you say?" Daley said. "I didn't know what the rule was. I knew a try wouldn't be allowed."

"Obviously disappointed we didn't get the set of six."

While it appeared the streaker stopped what appeared a certain Maroons try, Blues captain Robbie Farah said the incident hindered his own team.

"It was tough for us because of the ruling at the time. It was the fifth tackle and they got a scrum feed with a full set of six," Farah aid.

"There were only two or three minutes left in the game, it wasn't ideal for us...

"I didn't notice him until right at the end there when he was on the ground. I was too occupied to notice him."

Queensland coach Mal Meninga said the "big, fat fella" cost Matt Scott a certain try.

"I thought he did very well," Meninga said of the way the streaker evaded his pursuers.

"It was disruptive. It cost us a try. We handled it ... Silly, ridiculous it does happen in Origin, in sport, but it does happen."

Maroons fullback Billy Slater could see the funny side afterwards asking "is he a Queenslander?"

Not since Peter Hore, the serial pest who interrupted World Cup qualifiers and Melbourne Cups, has anyone had the audacity to ruin one of Australia's most treasured sporting events.

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Sadly, the Blues were again exposed as well.

Mitchell Pearce, the man himself will have you believe, will never pull on the sky blue jersey again.

The Roosters No.7, whose 12 Origin appearances is the most of any NSW halfback, predicted prior to the latest he wouldn't make a 13th unless he walked off ANZ Stadium a winner. He did not. So the question remains. Have we seen the last of Junior Junior? Do we put a line through him forever? Is it time for Adam Reynolds? Or Albert Kelly? Or anyone other than Mitchell Pearce?

The halfback, Ricky Stuart always says, owns the result. And while Pearce has been an easy target during a Queensland streak which now extends to eight years, the jury is out over whether he did enough to earn yet another shot.

The early signs weren't positive. In just the third minute of the match - and in just his second touch - Pearce dropped the ball cold just after his side earned a penalty.

The 24-year-old had a hand in James McManus' try, competed on every play in a kicking game that had good interspersed with bad. Yet again, it wasn't enough.

If there was one play that summed the whole thing up, it came in the 54th minute. The Blues had the momentum, the Maroons' line was stretched and Pearce got the ball. He had any number of options, but took the wrong one. In attempting to put a grubber behind the line, his foot missed the ball altogether. Peter Sterling, the second-most capped Blues halfback, summed it up succinctly from the commentary box.

"It's a poor play from Mitchell Pearce," he said.

It's not as if it wasn't all in his favour. He was playing with his Roosters halves partner, in front of a vocal home crowd, with a penalty count which was, at one point, 7-2 in his side's favour. It doesn't get much better than that.

It's not as if a halfback didn't stand up when the game was on the line. With fatigue setting in and just four points separating the teams midway through the second half, Cooper Cronk took ownership of the game. Again. In last year's decider, he kicked the match-deciding field goal from 41 metres out. This time, the Storm star put Justin Hodges over with a brilliant pass.

When Trent Merrin scored with nine to go, the deficit was just two.

Before the start of the series, NSW coach Laurie Daley declared South Sydney playmaker not ready for the step up to the big time. Time will tell next year.

As for the streaker, he faces a lifetime ban from all rugby league games at ANZ Stadium.

"There's a possibility he could be charged by police with a number of offences including resisting arrest, invading the field of play and [potentially indecent exposure]. That will be determined by police," said Arthur Stanley, ANZ Stadium spokesman.

Stanley conceded the antics of the pitch invader, who entered the field from the south-east corner, could overshadow a classic Origin encounter.

"He came at a very unusual part of the field, I understand, the quarter line, and it took a little while to [respond]," he said.

The streaker, who NRL officials believe is a repeat offender, also faces a fine of $5500 for invading the field.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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