It was a simple statement yet it summed up the Bob Templeton Cup match between NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds on Friday night at Leichhardt Oval.
Coming off the field at half-time following a frenetic, physical and surprisingly skilful first 40 minutes, a sodden and steaming Waratahs hooker Dave Porecki told TV man Sean Maloney: “It’s a proper rugby match, isn’t it.”
It wasn’t a question. And it certainly was. It was a proper derby game, too. It was passionate, physical, niggly.
Defence was ascendant, but only just. It was all men could do to hang on.
In the end it was hard to separate the teams. But Queensland’s defensive effort and commitment, and ability to take their chances, saw them beat NSW 20-16.
If anything, the Waratahs – who didn’t win a game in 2021 and played this one without their champion flanker, Michael Hooper – were the better team against last year’s local premiers.
In terms of possession and territory, NSW had the numbers. They ran and ran, and Queensland threw themselves at mobile bodies.