In front of over 83,000 screaming New South Wales supporters the Blues have defeated the Maroons 16-12 to level up the State Of Origin series 1-1.
It was an unsettled start to the game with both sides looking nervous. New South Wales settled first through and early on had the best of the chances, although you got the feeling that Queensland were going to turn it on at any point.
New South Wales broke the line first with some good play out wide that saw Brett Stewart just finding the line after 26 minutes. Queensland really only managed to get into the game after that try and just before half time they capitalized on a dropped bomb by Uate that saw Hannant score under the posts in what was a real kick in the guts for a Blue side that had dominated the first half.
The biggest play without question came in the second half when a kick in goal was chased by Todd Carney. Carney was held the entire length of his run to the ball by Cooper Cronk, and was stopped from scoring a try. I thought it should have been a penalty try, but instead Cronk was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.
New South Wales scored a penalty and two tries in that ten minute period, and at the end of the day that is what won the game. Even a glut of Maroons possession in the last 20 minutes wasn’t enough as the Blues defense was tremendous in closing out the game.
A few thoughts…
I thought Queensland for the most part played really poorly in this game. Slater looked troubled by injury, Thurston played probably his worst game at Origin level and Petero Civoniceva looks like a totally spent force. Justin Hodges didn’t break out of walking pace all night, he must have been injured too. As for Brent Tate, he copped a knock early and looking to be carrying injury himself most of the game.
On the flip side, Cronk and Smith were very good. Greg Inglis was incredible and Nate Myles was just about man of the match!
If you take their entire two game performance into account, Queensland hasn’t played all that well.
For New South Wales, Carney was once again poor, Pearce struggled in attack and with his kicking game, while Uate looks like his time at rep level is almost finished. He made so many mistakes.
Greg Bird was the man of the match. He was amazing and was belting Queensland all night. Robbie Farah made 64 tackles in what has to be one of the best performances by a hooker in Origin history. He also took over the general kicking late in the game. It was a great performance for a bloke that everyone wants to pile into at the first chance they get.
Once again Tamou, Lewis and Gallen were tremendous while Anthony Watmough showed why he should never have been left out of game one.
My gut feeling after this game is that overall, New South Wales are the better side in this series, especially up front. However their play makers and their kicking game is keeping Queensland in the contests and you just can’t afford to do that at this level. Many of these players can win a game just off muscle memory alone…..you can’t let the Maroons near the contest because they will win it.
We now go up to Suncorp Stadium in three weeks time and they place will be rocking. I think New South Wales is the better side, but I think with the pressure Carney and Pearce will be under in front of a sellout crowd….you’d have to lean towards Queensland on that alone.
Slater has three weeks to get healthy. Thurston won’t play poor games back to back. You’d think if Hodges is even at 80% of his best then he will be a handful again. On top of all that it will Petero’s last game for Queensland.
Overall State Of Origin two was a much better game than Origin one. I also think the only time you see ANZ Stadium in Sydney feel like a real cauldron is during a State Of Origin game. The place just lights up!
Three weeks from now, we will have a State Of Origin series winner. I can’t wait!!!
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