Phins up, baby!
It’s a catch cry that has rung around the NRL in 2023 as Wayne Bennett’s new boys have taken the competition by storm, and when Queensland needed something special to snatch victory at Adelaide Oval it was Dolphins flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who delivered.
‘The Hammer’ has been a tryscoring machine at fullback for the Dolphins with 10 tries in 11 games, using his devastating speed and swerve to leave defenders in his wake, and on Wednesday night it was all on show as a 12-man Maroons outfit somehow conjured a try for the ages.
With Tom Flegler in the sin bin and the Blues clinging to an 18-16 lead, it seemed a gutsy Maroons effort would all be in vain, but then Harry Grant and Cameron Munster headed left, Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr over committed and the dashing Dolphin Tabuai-Fidow put the hammer down.
Skipping the light fantastic down the sideline before swerving his way around James Tedesco, the 21-year-old touched down to give the Maroons a lead they would not relinquish.
A perfect start for the Maroons
Hot on the heels of the Hammer's 74th minute cracker the Maroons iced a remarkable win when Cameron Munster crossed to make it 26-18, meaning Queensland head to home turf for Game Two with a 1-0 lead.
Playing in just his second Origin match after debuting in 2021, Tabuai-Fidow already has three tries to his name and an epic highlight reel which will no doubt be added to many times over during the next decade, whether it be in the centres where he roamed in Game One or at fullback or on the wing.
Maroons v Blues – Game 1, 2023
By the time the final siren echoed around the iconic Adelaide Oval, Tabuai-Fidow had 147 metres, five tackle breaks and a line break to go with his dashing double, ensuring he'll have the crowd on their feet on June 21 at the ground where he scored the Dolphins' first ever NRL try back in Round 1.
Earlier in the night it had been Tabuai-Fidow’s Dolphins teammate Tom Gilbert setting the tone with some brutal defence and making sure every Blues forward knew he meant business.
When Blues debutant Hudson Young shaped up to milestone man Daly Cherry-Evans, it was Gilbert who moved in quickly and let the rugged Raider know he wouldn’t be copping any rubbish.
Sadly for Gilbert his night was over after 19 minutes due to a dislocated shoulder but he had owned the traditional softening up period and enhanced his reputation as a man made for Origin.
This was a night for all Queensland to savour, a night when every player in maroon dug deep to answer the call with the pivotal series opener in the balance.
Cotter the Player of the Match
For those Queenslanders who follow the NRL's newest team the night was even more special as two of their heroes came to the party in a big way on the biggest stage of all.
For Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett, who led the Maroons to series victories in 1987, 1988, 1998. 2001 and 2020, no doubt a wry smile came across his dial as one of his men made the Origin stage his own.
Phins up, baby!
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide