Queensland face their toughest match in recent history when they take on New South Wales at Stadium Australia tomorrow night as they try to save the series.
Confidence can be taken out of the 12-8 defeat in Brisbane. Queensland dominated the early stages and scored first through Darius Boyd. Cooper Cronk’s injury took the stuffing out of Queensland initially, but they fought back in the second half and almost got home. If it wasn’t for Brett Morris’ try saving tackle on Boyd in the second half, Queensland may have won the game. You couldn’t question the side’s commitment and effort in game one. New South Wales’ desperation in the final stages to hold their line ultimately gave them victory.
The buildup has been dominated by injury concerns over key players Daly Cherry-Evans, Greg Inglis and Billy Slater. Tonight in the Queensland press it’s being reported that Cherry-Evans should take his place in the side despite struggling with a leg injury. He will be given til game day to be passed fit. Ben Hunt remains on standby. The same goes for Inglis who was under an injury cloud following South Sydney’s victory in Perth two weeks ago. Willie Tonga resumed his place in the Queensland camp in the event Inglis can not take his place in the Queensland squad. Cooper Cronk’s series is over after breaking his arm early in the Origin I loss. The big loss after team selection was Corey Parker with an eye socket injury from Brisbane’s win in Canberra. Parker can offload and capable of giving the likes of Inglis space to run at a broken Blues line. The only good news for Queensland seems to be the welcome the return of Sam Thiaday from injury.
Queensland are more than capable of winning in Sydney. Brent Tate will be fired up after the lifting tackle from Josh Reynolds and Beau Scott that dominated talk after game one. Greg Bird’s comments in the game aftermath won’t be forgotten by the veteran centre on game day. Queensland will look towards Thiaday leading this pack. Hopefully he can inspire Aiden Guerra, Matt Gillett and Chris McQueen to give it to the Blues. Matt Scott played a great opening match and I expect no different this game. The match winners are Inglis, Slater and Cherry-Evans. But it may be Boyd again to provide the scoring out wide as matches up against rookie Blue Daniel Tupou. Expect Tupou to be targeted in the air like he was at stages in the opening game. Johnathan Thurston was quiet in the opening game and I expect him to have a bigger impact this time around.
Dominate the forward game and force the nervous Blues into errors, and Queensland will keep the series alive heading into the decider in Brisbane. If Queensland put too much effort on Jarryd Hayne, it might result in Josh Dugan and Michael Jennings having freedom to make their mark on the game. It’s quite evident New South Wales want to score enough points to win the game after selecting attacking weapons out wide which could be deficient in defense.
The underdog status suits Queensland fine and they cannot be written off. Bring on game two!
Why Queensland can win.