NSW set up Origin decider with 16-12 win
Luke Lewis is tackled by Corey Parker. AAP Images
NSW finally have their State of Origin hero and the hope they can end Queensland’s six-year dominance after Todd Carney sparked a 16-12 game two win on Wednesday night to set up a series decider.
With the weight of a state placed upon his shoulders, Carney’s Origin moment arrived after a forgettable debut – the Blues thrilling the 83,110 fans packed into ANZ Stadium with a brutal display to level the series at 1-all ahead of game three on July 4.
Carney was one of several heroes for the Blues, with Robbie Farah coming up with a colossal 64 tackles while skipper Paul Gallen’s effort on one knee was inspirational.
The Maroons battled bravely in spite of a wretched run of injuries, Corey Parker an early casualty with an ugly leg gash while Billy Slater and Brent Tate hobbled for much of the game.
With his side given the benefit of a one-man advantage after Cooper Cronk was sin-binned for denying Carney an opportunity to score, the Blues five-eighth hit the go button to change the match irrevocably.
Having just booted a penalty to lock it up at 6-all, Carney brushed through an Ashley Harrison tackle on his own 20-metre line before finding Brett Stewart in support for his second try of the night.
Four minutes later it was 16-6 to the Blues, Jarryd Hayne cleverly kicking the ball ahead after being stripped by Johnathan Thurston to complete a mesmerising spell for the home side.
Just as NSW did in Origin I when Michael Jennings was spelled for ten minutes, the Maroons paid dearly for Cronk’s binning, his decision to deny Carney a near certain six points instead becoming 12 by the time he returned.
Cronk did his best to make amends with a brilliant kick-chase on his return which secured a repeat set for the Maroons, and then almost like clockwork, Queensland started up their late charge.
Two straight sets were repelled by the Blues but a third was beyond them, Darius Boyd tapping back a Thurston bomb for Greg Inglis to stretch his Origin record tally to 14 tries.
It looked like the Maroons had broken NSW hearts when Brent Tate leapt highest to reel in a bomb in the corner, but just as he seemed set to fall over and score Jennings arrived to tap the ball out of his grasp.
The Blues had already had the life punched out of them on the stroke of halftime when after a spirited opening stanza they went to the sheds trailing when Ben Hannant scored a minute before the break.
Stewart’s 25th-minute try seemed scant reward for NSW’s dominance of the opening period after Akuila Uate inexplicably allowed a bomb to bounce near his line and Boyd tapped back for Harrison to feed Hannant who dived over under the posts.© AAP 2013