Elinya Chenery reviews the second Origin game, with Queensland a chance to secure the series and NSW needing to win…
NSW Blues 44
Tries: Nathan Cleary 2 (63, 66), Matt Burton (26), Brian To’o (39),Daniel Tupou (49), Jarome Luai (58), Angus Crichton (73)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 8 (11 – pen ,28, 40, 51, 59, 65, 67, 75)
QLD Maroons 12
Tries: Felise Kaufusi (22), Cameron Munster (30)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 2 (24, 32)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Game II of the 2022 State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland started hard and fast in front of a sold out Optus Stadium in Perth. A flying Nathan Cleary gave NSW their first chance down Queensland’s end on the final tackle of just their second set with a charge down and regather, only let down by a lack of ball control in the slippery conditions on the following play.
A perfectly timed tackle by winger Brian To’o ripped away an almost certain Selwyn Cobbo classic in the corner, with the Queenslander pushed into touch before NSW made their way back downfield to benefit from a stripping penalty and kick the penalty goal to make it a 2-0 scoreline.
After struggling to make metres amidst a strong Blues defensive effort, and another close try missed after Cobbo knocked on in the in-goal, Queensland got the first try of the game through a silky (and arguably forward) pass from fullback Kalyn Ponga to Felise Kaufusi to run over the line.
After being rendered ineffective through solid Maroons defence in game one, Cleary put through a skilfully weighted kick to set Matt Burton up for a try on his Origin debut. The celebrations from NSW didn’t last long however, as the Queensland side hit back through a crafty piece of ad-lib footy consisting of passes from Cameron Munster to Ponga and then onto Valentine Holmes before being returned to Munster to secure the four points.
New South Wales received multiple repeat sets on Queensland’s line following a knock-on off a towering Cleary bomb, but struggled to convert opportunity into points through uncharacteristically clunky attack. The accumulation of multiple set restarts and a penalty finally saw try-scorer Kaufusi sent to the sin bin off the back of a third Six Again.
New South Wales capitalised on the one-man advantage just before half time with To’o crossing in the corner after utilising the overlap created by Kaufusi’s 10 minute stint on the sideline. The game remained tight going into the break with New South Wales edging in front 14-12.
HALF-TIME: NSW Blues 14 Queensland Maroons 12Embed from Getty Images
The opening minutes of the second 40 began with scrappy play from both sides, with a Queensland knock-on presenting NSW with an attacking set, which ended through a forward pass essentially on top of the goal line.
Apparently taking the game one loss personally, Cleary continued to terrorise the Maroons with his kicking game, benefiting from the added threat of debutant Matt Burton’s own boot, and forced a Queensland knock-on less than 10 minutes into the second half. Once again with his hands on the ball, Cleary sent a floating cut-out pass across to towering winger Daniel Tupou to give the Blues an eight-point advantage.
Not to be outdone by his halves partner, NSW five eighth Jarome Luai continued the Blues’ rampage with an impressive solo effort, taking advantage of tired Queensland defenders to sprint through a gap and plant the ball down in the in-goal.
Despite New South Wales burning their Captain’s Challenge, the Queensland outfit was quite obviously gassed heading into the last quarter of the match, which resulted in a Burton one-on-one strip to give NSW another try-scoring opportunity. Interchange hooker Damien Cook sent a pinpoint pass from dummy half to Cleary for the halfback to weave through the last line of defence and cross for his first try of the match. In a dramatic sense of deja vu, only three minutes later another pass from Cook sent Cleary over again for his double, which he then converted himself to sit at a 100% conversion rate.
Involved in every aspect of play, Cleary then put a big shot on Ponga, which whilst applauded at the time, resulted in Ponga being sent by the independent doctor for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and Cleary being placed on report for the high shot minutes later.
The last 10 minutes of play descended into sloppy play from both sides, although the weight of NSW possession and QLD goal line defence seemed to take a toll on the Maroons, with ball control and attacking polish from the Queensland side essentially non-existent.
To round out the match with a bang, Angus Crichton stormed over next to the posts to get NSW past the 40-point threshold, and despite calls from Queensland that they were obstructed, the try was upheld by The Bunker. Converting Crichton’s try, Cleary took his points haul to 24 for the evening, giving him the rank of second-most points scored by an individual in a single Origin game, behind only fellow New South Welshman and Panthers premiership winner Ryan Girdler.
FULL-TIME: NSW Blues 44 Queensland Maroons 12
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Blues), 2 pts – Matt Burton (Blues), 1 pt – Jarome Luai (Blues)
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