One trip out west could seal the 2019 State Of Origin series for Queensland.
After what can only be described as a valiant effort by the Maroons, they deservedly hold all the cards for this Sunday night Origin epic in Perth.
Forcing the hand of New South Wales Coach Brad Fittler, there have been seven injury and non-injury changes made by the “dark blues” in their one-off Origin outfit this weekend.
The biggest talking point throughout the media this week is that Latrell Mitchell, the world’s best player right now has been dropped after one sub-par performance. It’s been analyzed over and over again, but it’s happened – and the Blues have to move on.
Fifteen of Queensland’s Canetoads will back up from their staunch Game One win at Suncorp Stadium, which will definitely help their cause.
I’m excited to see Perth being used as an Origin arena. I am also definitely an advocate of Perth hosting a Magic Weekend in the future, but for now – the best thing that can happen is that it sells out 60,000 seats and it produces an incredible match.
New South Wales will have their backs against the wall from the first whistle. The pressure to keep the series alive will be in the back of their minds, and the task ahead of them is a tough one.
Returning Blues players Blake Ferguson and Tom Trbojevic come back from form and injury concerns to do their bit in an under pressure backline – but with the experience they provide it should pay dividends.
James Maloney comes in and sits alongside his club mate Nathan Cleary to bring a better kicking game, and smarter execution in a much needed way.
Up front, the inclusion of Newcastle’s mammoth Daniel Saifiti is on debut, replacing the injured David Klemmer.
Dale Finucane who should have been picked in game in gets his spot on the bench, alongside the return of enforcer Tariq Sims, and Cronulla’s Wade Graham.
That’s what losing does to a side. The fans, the players, and the New South Wales media are incredibly desperate to see their side go back to back in Origin series wins, but there’s a big mountain to climb this Sunday.
There’s still plenty of experience and talent in this New South Wales side, so they can’t be written off.
Coming in for Queensland are forwards Tim Glasby, and Jarrod Wallace through injuries to Jai Arrow and Joe Ofahengaue.
Coach Kevin Walters described their performance in game one as a 5/10, and I would tend to agree.
Their first half performance was poor. They bombed three tries, something I have never seen the Maroons do before – but their second half was outstanding. They defied the critics to come through and hold strong.
Now if a 5/10 Queensland side can beat the Blues, imagine what they’re capable of if they get to an 8/10 on Sunday.
The way Cameron Munster delivered alongside Daly Cherry-Evans was super impressive. They never panicked, they kicked to the corners, and they defended strongly.
Their real danger man is Kalyn Ponga as we all know, but I think Felise Kaufusi is the biggest threat to New South Wales.
He doesn’t get too many Man Of The Match awards, but was by far Queensland’s best in game one, and I would expect him to put the notch up again for game two.
The Cockroaches will be relying on the form of Cleary and Maloney to get the job done once again. Which is perfect timing as they have started to turn Penrith’s season around.
With lightning pace out wide, expect their backs to do more coming off their line, and be involved more on attack.
It seemed the ball didn’t go further than the second rowers in game one, and that is something they will have looked at I’m sure.
This match is going to be another Origin excitement machine. I’m going to say that a barnstorming Matt Gillett will be the first try scorer, and Queensland will run out winners 22-18.
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