NSW Blues 26
Tries: Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Aaron Woods, Josh Dugan
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 5 goals
Queensland Maroons 18
Tries: Matt Scott, Greg Inglis, Matt Gillett
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 3 goals
The NSW Blues have levelled the 2015 State of Origin series at 1-1 following a passionate but controversial game at the MCG on Wednesday night.
The Blues scored first, and lead at the break before seemingly falling asleep in the early stages of the second half as Queensland stormed to the lead. However following a Greg Inglis no try decision, the Blues once again gained the ascendency and kept the series alive.
The decision became the talking point of the match, the try disallowed due to a ruling that saw Queensland utility Michael Morgan penalised for knocking it on in the process of stripping, though there was much conjecture on whether Mitchell Pearce’s loose carry was to blame.
While the decision took some of the spotlight, the Blues tenacity and energy to win the game can not be discredited, with their forwards, lead by Aaron Woods, carving up the metres and giving space for the backline to move.
It all began brightly for NSW when a broken down play was scooped on by Pearce who immediately passed to Michael Jennings. The Blues’ centre was able to slice through a limited Queensland defence to score in just the fourth minute of the match.
Six minutes later however, the Queensland side replied with a more direct route, prop Matt Scott crashing over under the posts to lock the game at 6 a piece.
In a rollercoaster affair, NSW crossed next when Morris plucked a Pearce kick out of the air and managed to ground it despite the pressure of Jonathon Thurston and Greg Inglis. Hodkinson slotted the conversion leaving the Blues out in front 12-6 after 26 minutes of play.
But Queensland again showed their champion nature, when they broke down their left flank, Slater throwing an effective pass around a defender to Inglis who in turn found Darius Boyd. Boyd then drew the fullback before flicking the ball back inside to Inglis to cross untouched. Thurston made a rare mess of the conversion attempt to leave the Blues a 2 point lead.
In a somewhat curious decision, the NSW side extended their advantage to four, three minutes out from the break through a penalty goal, and a 14-10 half time lead, the same four point margin they held at half time in game one.
And just like in game one, the Maroons came out firing after the break, Thurston highlighting the attitude by making a tremendous kick chase to see Josh Dugan trapped in goal.
From there, the Maroons camped themselves in the attacking 20m, before going over through Matt Gillet and taking a 16-14 lead.
With the Blues on the racks, it must have been relief of sort when the Queensland side elected to take two points in the 57th minute of play, following an offside infringement.
It was a decision that would haunt them shortly after, when Aaron Woods showed all sorts of determination to crash over a 20-18 lead for his side after 62 minutes of play.
Then came the controversy.
It started when NSW crossed the line through Mitchell Pearce, only to be called back for a forward pass on Josh Morris, a decision that looked correct live, though slow motion gave the call some conjecture.
Inglis then pounced on a loose ball and ran the length of the field to score only for his try to be disallowed due to the knock on call on Michael Morgan.
From the ensuing scrum, NSW put pressure on the Queensland line, and Dugan found his way through, with Hodkinson converting for the largest margin of the match at eight points, and the final 26-18 score line.
A confident Blues side spent the last ten minutes getting in the faces of Queensland, lead by a fired up David Klemmer, in a end to the match that is sure to have the flame for Origin III well and truly lit.