Blues blow golden chance
It all seemed to be going so right for the Blues. In the first half they had picked up seemingly where they left off in Game I. After conceding the first try, they split the Maroons defence apart down their right edge as they ran in two tries and some Tedesco magic produced a third try for the Blues to go into the half-time break leading 16-6. The Maroons were a mess and were lacking direction, even the great JT put a kick out on the full.
In the 40 minutes that followed though, it all came apart for them. They tried to defend that 10 point lead for just about the entire 2nd half. A try from out of nowhere by QLD around some poor, tiring NSW defence got them hitting the panic button. In a rare display of complete common sense, Gus Gould noted that got NSW into the mentality of playing to the clock and seeing how much longer they could last out there.
They started to play side to side footy and abandoned any aggressive attacking strategies, all the while committing error after error and giving away penalties galore, the validity of the offences notwithstanding. Hayne’s status as hero turned to villain soon enough. After scoring the Blues first try, it seemed to awaken the Messiah within him. Unfortunately he was producing errors instead of miracles. He missed 4 tackles, made a number of errors and his lacking defence at centre was exposed. He bombed a try by not passing to Morris and went for the glory play too often.
It’s certainly not Hayne’s fault on his own. The game plan seemed to deviate little from passing to him and hoping he produced brilliance. The right edge of Dugan and Ferguson barely saw any ball which was especially puzzling given the good game Dugan was having with ball in hand.
The 2nd half strategy by the Blues personally insulted Joey Johns who blew up in the post-game about their out the back passing plays that produced nothing and not identifying Thurston as a defensive weakness with a bum shoulder. The ability to seal up the series was there for NSW but they let it go to waste.
Careers are fleeting, champions are forever
It was a typical Queensland performance where no matter how much the odds were against them, they rallied together to fight back and achieve victory. The Maroons era of dominance continues on as they proved you can’t keep a good team down.
Johnathan Thurston played on with a dodgy shoulder and stepped up to be a match winner, kicking the game winning conversion. Dane Gagai was an attacking weapon once again as he scored a double taking his tally to 7 tries from 6 games while Dylan Napa and Josh McGuire stood up to NSW’s pack and took them head on.
Legends grow older, new blood surfaces but no matter what the Maroons still retain their champion qualities. It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, there will never be another team like this.
Where to now for the Blues?
The Blues team now has a seemingly impossible task of going up to Queensland for the decider and defeating a Maroons team looking to send Thurston and likely Cronk too, out as victors. While JT may not even play with his injury, they’ve still got the toughest challenge in Rugby League ahead of them.
To the average fan it’s a daunting task that few would consider to yield any positive result for the Blues. However if they pack it in before the game is even on, then they might as well not turn up at all. Regathering themselves mentally and mounting a charge to spoil the biggest QLD celebration of them all is a mammoth of an ask for the Blues. If they can pull it off though, it’d likely be one of their greatest victories in history.
Debutants have a mixed night out
Queensland had 4 debutants in Game II and it wasn’t the smoothest of introductions for some. Valentine Holmes made two errors with one happening on his first touch of the ball but he also scored the first try of the game. Tim Glasby who had been absolutely savaged by the media in the pre-game hype was actually playing exactly like how they described him. His defensive errors led to two NSW tries being scored but in the end he got the last laugh as he stands on the cusp of winning as many series as Paul Gallen did for NSW.
Jarrod Wallace and Coen Hess weren’t given much to do in 22 and 19 minute appearances respectively. They were eased into the Origin arena very carefully but bigger minutes loom for Game III as they should be confident and hungry after a debut win.
In The Sheds
Johnathan Thurston was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury during the game and is unlikely to line up for the Cowboys this week, pending scans.
QLD Maroons- 18
Tries: Valentine Holmes(9m), Dane Gagai (52m, 77m)
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 3/3
NSW Blues- 16
Tries: Jarryd Hayne (14m), Brett Morris (24m), Mitchell Pearce (27m)
Goals: James Maloney 2/3