From the staunchest of Origin fans, no matter what side of the border or fence you sit – game one was a result that few to none saw coming.
A New South Wales Blues side tore Queensland apart 50-6 in Townsville, where new Queensland Maroons coach Paul Green won an NRL premiership with the Cowboys.
Mouths gaped open and jaws hit the floor as NSW scored their biggest ever win over their QLD opposition in Origin history.
The crowd that was once roaring in ruckus, roared silently as time and time again their side was undone.
Game two gets underway around ten pm on Sunday, and Queensland will be at Suncorp Stadium, which has been a fortress for them over time.
77% of teams who win the second State Of Origin game win the series. So a lot of riding on this fixture for both teams.
Again it’s Queensland taking the talking points leading up to it. A player is hospitalised, the dropping of a future Queensland star, a hooker and his hamstring, and a kid that’s only played seven NRL games plays the biggest game of his 18 years on this planet.
Jai Arrow spent time in hospital for an infection, but will of course be fine to do what he does come game day.
Xavier Coates sits this one out, a few errors threw out his confidence in game one, but his threat under the high ball would be worth hanging onto for this do or die game.
Harry Grant’s hamstring sets him back yet again, which is a tough pill to swallow for this young star.
While all eyes, ears, and hearts are on Reece Walsh, who is in the running for NRL Rookie Of The Year will make his debut in the fullback jersey. Unrivaled confidence of the kid will undoubtedly help him out in this massive game.
While the Queenslanders are doing it tough, they are still sporting a great halves combination, and a forward pack than on its day will bring huge amounts of physicality.
I’ll always say this. Never rule them out.
Suncorp Stadium is a tough place to win at for any visiting team (except across the last 18 months, sorry Broncos fans – they suck) and heading into this one down 1-0 in the series will be the hurt-turned-motivation the Cane Toads require.
New South Wales are forces in to making one change to their side, with Jake Trbojevic ruled out through a training mishap for Manly in the lead up to their comeback win over the Gold Coast last Sunday.
That paves the way for Angus Crichton, arguably the games best edge forward right now, and Dale Finucane into the squad who may pinch Liam Martin’s spot on the bench at the last minute.
In game one, the Blues set about making their outside backs take a lot of carries. This meant their forwards were able to make plenty of impact when needed.
While carrying an almost Harlem Globetrotters-style backline with Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Tedesco, Brian To’o and Josh Addo-Carr, it’s easy to see how strength and speed combine to make a menacing attacking set.
The game plan won’t change much from the Blues. They’ll be aware that the Maroons will be hunting them early to try and rattle them. It’s going to take more than a couple of big shots early to throw the Cockroaches off this match.
A 50-6 scoreline in game one is good. Winning the series in Suncorp after playing two consecutive games in Queensland will be great.
That’s what’s riding on the line for the New South Welshmen in this game. They don’t want to make game three a tie-breaker. They want to go home with the confidence they’ve secured the series and have the chance to sweep the Maroons.
It will take a mammoth Queensland effort from all seventeen players to overcome what happened in game one and turn it around. The good thing for them is that they can clear the slate and start game two with a clear goal in mind. Do what you need to do to win.
We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again, that the Maroons won’t go down without a fight.
Judging from what I saw in game one, it’s the Blues game to lose. They’ve got a great chance at securing some history on Sunday night. The fate is in their hands to do so.
Damien Cook for first try, and New South Wales to win 30-18.
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