New South Wales Blues V Queensland Maroons – ANZ Stadium – 22.15 NZT
The time has come for game two of this series.
After what can only be described as New South Wales greatest performance in game one since game three of the 2000 series where Ryan Girdler took a personal points haul of 32 points.
After such an emphatic performance, you’d imagine the pressure goes right back on the Queenslanders who have to fight with all their might to keep the series alive in this one.
However, I believe the pressure is firmly back on the Blues to win.
It’s been 1099 days since that thriller of a 2014 series which saw a Trent Hodkinson try and conversion win the Blues their first series since 2005.
Is this their time to do it all again?
Queensland have shrugged off their self-imposed ‘pick and stick’ with a number of changes amongst their ranks.
They’ve brought back golden boy Billy Slater, recalled Cowboy Gavin Cooper, and thrown in rookies Valentine Homes, Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess, and Tim Glasby, as well as Johnathan Thurston returning from injury to give them a boost they ultimately did not receive in game one.
Queensland’s side looks ominous. A lot tougher than the team which were walked all over in game one.
They have to turn up on blue soil, and give the New South Welshmen an absolute performance to try make game three a series-decider.
The Blues have not made a single change. They’re listed 1-17 and stuck to the guns.
Expect the Canetoads to rough up the Cockroaches. There was none of that in the first instalment, and perhaps that was a downfall of theirs.
Young blokes Coen Hess, Tim Glasby, Jarrod Wallace, and Valentine Homes will all be making an impact; that’s for sure.
Hess is deadly close to the line, and emphatic try scorer at club level – look for Thurston to deliver a short ball all day to Hess.
Glasby has copped a lot of flack in the media for his selection, but with Craig Bellamy as head coach in the NRL – you know this fella had pedigree.
Wallace was unlucky not to be picked in Game One. His performances this season have been dominant and has a big future ahead of him.
And of course there’s Valentine Homes. A game-breaker if there ever was one. This Sharks flyer has gone leaps and bounds over the last three seasons.
The Blues have to stick to their guns, and what worked well in Game One for them. Cronulla crusher Andrew Fifita was let loose and destroyed all those in his path, and if he didn’t trample them – he ran around them and laughed. More of this is going to be brilliant.
Mitchell Pearce played his best game of this Blues career too in a performance which was cut short due to concussion.
He has to answer his demons though. Arch-rival Thurston has beaten and sledged Pearce in the Origin arena many a time as a winner. It’s now Pearce’s turn to peg one back. He has to go in to this match with the belief he can do his part to get his side over the line.
I see a very balanced 20 minutes, in typical Origin fashion I suppose. There’s always a couple of players getting away with a bit around the ruck which is looked over by the officials – but it is whoever claims the ruck should go on and claim the contest.
The last thing New South Wales need to do is panic, they can’t let this Queensland side bully them in to submission.
TIP: I’m going for New South Wales to win their second series in four years. Nathan Peats first try scorer, and a 22-18 scoreline.
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