By Stephen Gallagher
STATE OF ORIGIN: GAME 02 – Queensland Maroons V New South Wales Blues – Wednesday, Suncorp Stadium. 20.10 local time, 22.10 NZ time.
LAST TIME: New South Wales came out and blew Queensland away early on. So much so, that the Queenslanders couldn’t recover. Taking game one honours on home turf 14-6.
THIS TIME: Maroons fans need to turn up and help their mob. The Queensland side will be the first to raise their hands after a poor performance in game one.Nothing short of excellence for the Cane Toads as this is do or die.
Blues will be under plenty of pressure as they travel up the country to do battle in the cauldron. An intimidating appearance at Suncorp for this team, in an unusual position of leading the series.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A Queensland side that can and will punish every single mistake New South Wales make. Not doing so in game one cost them a possible win. Meninga will be tough and fierce on his players throughout the week, and making sure they can perform with pressure on. No doubt the Maroons can do it, but its that expectation of excellence that will be the extra 10% to take them over the line.
New South Wales have the series in their favour, but does that mean they can let this slip? Not at all. Coach Laurie Daley will push his players to the brink, as clinching this match would be a rare and historic feat for the Blues. I expect the same ambush plans as Game One. With a quick start pinning the Maroons on the back foot early.
THE BATTLE OF: Men-In-Six. Johnathan Thurston was not who he usually is in Game One, but that won’t discourage him. He is the king pin, the star of this side and can single handedly destroy the Blues.
James Maloney did not look like a player who made his debut last time, he looked like a player who has comfortably led the Blues before. I feel his support play is second-to-none and he has the enthusiasm to take the Blues to a series win.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Daly Cherry-Evans – Off the bench, a bizarre role for this player. I say keep your eye on him because I don’t know how he will play a role in this team. There’s no way you’d bring off Smith or Cronk, so how will he get on?
Aaron Woods. Call him unlucky last season not to wear sky-blue, but after tearing his hamstring off the bone in 2010 he’s come back and delivered non stop. A huge reward for a player who has deservedly earned his spot to make a difference.
Does home advantage mean everything on Origin? I am extremely nervous as a Blues fan just what Queensland are capable of. I would love to say NSW win this one, but I just can’t see it. Queensland by not much. 22-18.
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