The 2017 State of Origin series is finely poised heading into the decider on July 12th, after Queensland leveled the series in game two and broke the hearts of New South Wales inside the ANZ Stadium, Sydney.
After storming to a 28-4 victory in the first test, the Blues’ confidence was evident in Sydney, as they looked to seal a series victory in game two. And, after a magnificent first 40, Laurie Daley’s side looked exactly like doing that.
However, a magnificent second-half comeback saw Queensland turn the game around. Two tries from Dane Gagai, the second coming in the 77th minute, saw the game tied at 16-16 with a kick to come, which, as expected, the reliable Johnathan Thurston slotted over with ease to give his side an 18-16 victory and take the series to 1-1.
Whilst it was Gagai who earned plaudits for his try scoring brace, Thurston was undoubtedly the man behind the Maroons’ epic comeback, which kept the three game series alive.
Despite the momentum seemingly with Queensland, there has been a turn of events that could potentially give the Blues the advantage heading into the deciding test, in which they are currently 4/5 favourites to win with leading bookmakers on the Oddschecker website.
The match-winning Thurston has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2017 season, after having to undergo immediate shoulder surgery, which leaves the Maroons heading into the State of Origin decider without their key creative cog.
Thurston missed the first test of the series, and without the stand-off, Queensland looked poor, struggling to threaten a rampant New South Wales side.
Queensland have other threats, and the try scoring ability of Gagai will have to be something the Blues are aware of, along with the threat that Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk will pose in Thurston’s absence. However, New South Wales will be quietly pleased to hear that Thurston won’t be amongst the Maroons’ 17 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Game two of the series was a thriller and, for the neutral, seeing the series go to a decider is what everybody wanted to see. However, Thurston’s absence is a disappointment, as we might not see the thrilling finale we are all hoping for, with New South Wales surely holding the upper hand, and Daley’s side seemingly on the verge of clinching just their second series victory since 2005 and their first since 2014.