BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05: David Fifita of the Maroons runs the ball during game one of the 2019 State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 05, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

How much better is Origin? For most of us, Origin is one of the absolute high points of the season due to the quality and intensity provided by the game’s biggest stars. But is it measurably better than the regular season battles we see week to week? The numbers tell the story.

Pace of Play

Origin games feel faster. They look faster. Game One was in fact, actually faster. The NRL team that handles the ball most this season is the Bulldogs with 406.8 receipts per game. The Warriors rank last at 346.1 per game. Both QLD and NSW exceeded the Bulldogs season mark in Game One with a whopping 439 (QLD) and 426 (NSW) receipts each in Game One. 26. More possessions, more passes create a more free-flowing game and some extremely fatigued gladiators.

One of the main factors in the end to end battle last Wednesday night was the success of both sides in completing their sets.

Set Completions 2019 2018 Average 2019 NRL Best by Average 2019 NRL Worst by Average
Queensland 90% 82% 80% Newcastle 70% Panthers
New South Wales 86% 84%

Set completion % has been a feature of Origin games over NRL games for a number of years, with 2019’s Game One taking it to a whole other level. Queensland completed a phenomenal 90% of their sets (36 of 40) while NSW were also at the Elite level with 86% (32/37). Seven NRL teams are currently completing 76% of their sets or less, a 14% shortcoming compared to the Maroons with only the Knights and Bulldogs completing at 80% on the season. The regularity of the set completions were remarkable and showed the importance of valuing the footy and completing your sets.

Second phase play was a highlight of the second half and there were considerably more offloads than we have seen in season 2019. QLD (12) and NSW (11) combined for 23 offloads in Game One. The Sharks lead the NRL at 11.5 per game while the Knights are last at just 6.3 per game. Only the Sharks average more than NSW managed in game one, creating an exciting brand of footy.

The refs put the whistle away in Origin. We all know it, and we all love it. There were a combined eight penalties in Game One. Penrith averages eight penalties per game on their own! The Warriors have been the least penalised side in 2019 at 5.4 per game, still more than both QLD (3) and NSW (5) conceded in Game One. The fatigue rate on the players in Game One was incredible and will no doubt lead to a number of withdrawals of stars from club games this weekend.

Heightened Skill Level

The exceptional skill level of the players in Origin means there are generally no easy options on the park (except maybe that NSW left side defence….). The rapid pace of the game and its ensuing increased fatigue led to a higher number of missed tackles than in 2018

Missed Tackles 2019 2018 Average 2019 NRL Best by Average 2019 NRL Worst by Average
Queensland 50 40 20.9 - Wests Tigers 40.3 - Panthers
New South Wales 42 26

This needs to be seen in perspective though as both teams made staggering numbers of tackles due to the extra carries. QLD made 371 tackles with NSW completing 367. Penrith averages the most in the NRL in 2019 at 357.2, mainly thanks to their inability to hang onto the ball, while the Roosters make just 293 per game. Last Wednesday night, QLD made 78 (22.48%) and NSW 74 (20.16%) more tackles than the Roosters make on the average weekend. Staggering numbers and a testament to the talent of both sides in Game One to keep the scoreboard from running up.

Where the heightened skill came in was in the cover defence and defensive support of the tacklers' teammates.

Post Contact Metres 2019 2018
2019 NRL Best by Average 2019 NRL Worst by Average
Queensland 335 490.5 471.9 - Cowboys 332.4 - Dragons
New South Wales 297 476.2

With such an incredible level of footwork (Munster, Ponga, Tedesco) and powerful running (Klemmer, Trbojevic, Papalii) tackles were bound to broken. What was truly impressive was how quickly the defenders were able to shut down the opportunities and restrict the post-contact metres in such a significant fashion. Queensland was down a whopping 31.7% on their 2018 average with NSW even further down, a 37.6% drop. QLD was on a par with the worst post contact side in the NRL, the Dragons, and the Blues were 35.4 metres further back. This opportunity created followed by being quickly snuffed out led to an enthralling spectacle by both sides.

Game One was an absolute belter and Game Two Sunday week in Perth has a lot to live up to. The pace in Game One was incredible, the players gave their all and the refs allowed the game to flow beautifully. Game One was truly a brilliant spectacle and the numbers back it up…. Origin is faster!

All statistics courtesy of

Trust in the Data!