Shannon Meyer reviews the second State of Origin game, where NSW ensured there will be a decider.
|7th||Try Xavier Coates (Queensland)||Queensland 4-0|
|16th||Try Cody Walker (NSW)||Draw 4-4|
|18th||Goal Nathan Cleary (NSW)||NSW 6-4|
|22nd||Try James Tedesco (NSW)||NSW 10-4|
|23rd||Goal Nathan Cleary (NSW)||NSW 12-4|
|37th||Try Josh Addo-Carr (NSW)||NSW 16-4|
|38th||Goal Nathan Cleary (NSW)||NSW 18-4|
|42nd||Try Jack Wighton (NSW)||NSW 22-4|
|44th||Goal Nathan Cleary (NSW)||NSW 24-4|
|52nd||Try Daniel Tupou (NSW)||NSW 28-4|
|56th||Payne Haas (NSW) – SIN BIN||NSW 28-4|
|56th||Tino Fa’asuamaleuai (Queensland) – SIN BIN||NSW 28-4|
|62nd||Try Josh Papalii (Queensland)||NSW 28-8|
|63rd||Goal Valentine Holmes (Queensland)||NSW 28-10|
|64th||Try Josh Addo-Carr (NSW)||NSW 32-10|
|78th||Penalty Goal Nathan Cleary (NSW)||NSW 34-10|
A bruising opening few minutes from NSW saw an early Queensland casualty as Cameron Munster left the field for a HIA after slamming his head into the turf taking a cross-field kick in the Blues’ first attacking set. Ben Hunt replaced Munster, who didn’t return for the night. A big blow for Queensland.
It didn’t stop Queensland going close for the first big chance of the game the very next set, as Josh Papalii went close to barging over after the game’s first tackle restart. A try-saving tackle featuring Tyson Frizzell kept the game scoreless.
A knock on from Josh Addo-Carr in the NSW half gave Queensland a golden opportunity again in the sixth minute. The Maroons took full advantage within that set as they ran on the fifth tackle to the right and a beautiful cut out pass landed in Dane Gagai’s chest; he found Xavier Coates who performed some outstanding acrobatics to slam the ball down with millimeters to spare.
The first penalty of the night went to Queensland in the 11th minute, which was a refreshing change from the over-officiated first game. A second penalty three minutes later to Queensland undid the good work NSW were continuing in defense, and led to Queensland pressuring the NSW line again, albeit unsuccessfully.
NSW’s first penalty in the 15th minute led to a set restart followed by a Nathan Cleary break and then another penalty on the Queensland line. NSW made them pay a few plays later as the Blues halves combined – with Cleary passing and Cody Walker jinking through the Maroons’ defense for a try that will surely have some redemption for the Rabbitohs’ star after his Origin debut dumping.
A super early tackle kick from Cleary led to a repeat set for NSW as a great chase from Addo-Carr caught Phillip Sami unaware and in-goal. The reward was maximum the very next set as James Tedesco strolled over to the right of the posts from 10 metres, with Cleary throwing the final pass once more. NSW were looking stronger with each set, and Queensland looking a little tired in both attack and defense.
With the Maroons struggling to get out of their half, a penalty in attack for obstruction on their own 20 metre line wasn’t very helpful. Neither was the knock on in the next attacking set. NSW pressured but were ultimately unsuccessful for now, but it seemed like more Blues points were coming with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half.
A repeat set after another great early kick from Cleary, followed by a six again call, had NSW attacking the Queensland line once more. Once more the Maroons held on.
More pressure followed when Coates dropped a cross-field bomb – with three minutes to go – on the Queensland line. The question was could the Maroons hang on? That question was quickly and emphatically answered the first tackle from the midfield scrum as Walker found Tedesco on the right who delivered to Addo-Carr, who crossed with relative ease in the corner.
It was all NSW for at least the last 20 minutes of the first half, and the final try was probably the least the Blues deserved for their dominance. Surely they wouldn’t waste their first half dominance in the next forty minutes?
After being dominated early in the second half in game one, NSW didn’t take long to extend their points advantage as Jack Wighton got the better of Dane Gagai to power through the Maroons centre and open the Blues’ second half account. Once again, Walker was involved with the final pass, after some great lead up work in the previous tackle by Damian Cook and Cleary up the middle.
Another scrum in the middle of the field proved too hot for Queensland to handle in the 51st minute, as Walker and Tedesco combined again: this time it was the left winger Daniel Tupou who was the beneficiary, scoring the fifth Blues try for the night. Cleary suffered his first goalkicking failure, but it looked unlikely to matter as the NSW lead was 28-4, and Queensland needed a Queensland-sized miracle to get home from here.
A Queensland penalty led to an old fashioned dust-up before play had restarted, as Nathan Brown kicking the ball away from Jake Friend led to pushing and shoving involving most of the players. Despite warnings to stay away from the referee, Tino Fa’asuamaleuai was sin binned as was Payne Haas, who featured the most for NSW in the melee. Haas would need more than 10 minutes to repair his jersey from the fracas.
Despite repeat sets and great territory, Queensland did not score, and whatever hope they had of a huge comeback looked over with 20 minutes to go. Or was it?
After a great lead up run from Kurt Capewell, earning a set restart, Queensland scored their second try of the game, as a few tackles later Cherry-Evans found a rampaging Papalii 10 metres out who powered his way to the line. The successful conversion made it 28-10 with 17 minutes to go.
The good times didn’t last long for Queensland as a loose Capewell pass on the next set gave NSW great territory and a full set to play with. Not long later a perfect Walker grubber found rugby league’s fastest man on the right, and the Fox had grabbed his second try of the night. Despite the missed conversion, the Blues led 32-10 with 16 minutes to go.
The last period of the game only highlighted further what had preceded it, with Queensland looking clunky in attack, and a 40-20 kick from Cleary more proof of his dominance of the game from his boot. A penalty goal with a few minutes to go allowed NSW to soak up the big win and think about the upcoming decider at a ground where their record in deciders isn’t great.
State of Origin game two served as redemption for both NSW halves Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker, both of whom dominated the game in different ways. Cleary produced an almost perfect kicking display, with early kicks leading to repeat sets, and great territory. Walker then provided the extra bit of flair throughout in attack and both were involved in almost all of the Blues’ tries for the evening. The redemption for Walker is being able to prove he can turn outstanding club form into the Origin area after being made a scapegoat after his interstate debut. For Cleary, he has been one of the NRL’s best all season, but has had to settle for second twice already (grand final and Dally M), so being a big part in a big game win was the least he deserved. Of course it will count for less if they can’t make it three series’ in a row next Wednesday.
James Tedesco proved once again why he is one of rugby league’s best with another huge performance for the Blues. He is so dangerous in attack, and as reliable a fullback in defense as a team could get.
The biggest turning points was one of the earliest big moments of the game when Cameron Munster left the field under HIA. It was an innocuous incident as he slammed his head into the turf while retrieving a grubber and trying unsuccessfully to escape his in-goal. Whether he would have made enough difference is debatable, but the Maroons looked bereft of ideas at times in attack. Daly Cherry-Evans was not able to match last week’s Man of the Match heroics. Ben Hunt is a capable back up player, but his strength for the Queensland side is coming off the bench, and as such Queensland lost two weapons on the night.
One pre-game boon for the Fox Sports snobs was the resting of Phil Gould for Channel Nine’s coverage. Much like a referee – who is at their best when you don’t remember them – the same applies here. Although Ray Warren did his best to point out every minor injustice for the Blues in Gould’s absence, possibly trying to liven up the less lively supporting duo in the commentary with him. Billy Slater and Andrew Johns may be huge in big game experience, but are low voltage in electric broadcasting. The lop-sided score probably didn’t help. Just one more game to endure with this broadcaster.
Did Wayne Bennett rest some of his big gun forwards in the second half more than usual as a tactic for the decider, after it was clear that Queensland weren’t likely to win? If so, we only have to wait a week to find out.
New South Wales Blues: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Clinton Gutherson 4. Jack Wighton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cody Walker 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Angus Crichton 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Dale Finucane 15. Junior Paulo 16. Nathan Brown 17. Isaah Yeo.
Queensland Maroons: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Phillip Sami 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Dunamis Lui 9. Jake Friend 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleuai. Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Jai Arrow 17. Moeaki Fotuaika.