State of Origin 2012 Game 2 result: NSW win 16-12
Luke Lewis is tackled by Corey Parker. AAP Images
New South Wales will head to Brisbane next month with the 2012 State Of Origin series well and truly alive after a physically dominant display trumped Queensland 16-12 in Game 2 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
Relive all the action here in our State of Origin 2012 Game 2 Live blog and commentary.
The sin-binning of Cooper Cronk early in the second half proved the game’s turning point as the Blues capitalised with two tries while the Queensland halfback was sidelined for a professional foul on Todd Carney.
As the sending off of Michael Jennings in Melbourne halted New South Wales’ momentum, Cronk’s dismissal had a similar impact in Sydney as Brett Stewart and Josh Morris helped themselves to tries in a crucial period of the game, the latter profiting from a ball dropped by Jarryd Hayne incidentally yet fortuitously on to his boot.
Stewart had earlier opened the scoring in the 25th minute after a cagey start, but the home side was unable to convert their subsequent early physical pressure into points.
It was a rampant New South Wales in the first half, looking more like the side that has now won 13 of the past 20 at ANZ Stadium and not a side that was staring down the barrel of a seventh consecutive series defeat.
Ricky Stuart was pleased with what he saw from his sideline vantage point, but that all changed on the stroke of half time as Ben Hannant flipped the script.
A high bomb by Cronk wreaked defensive havoc among the panicked Blues, allowing the prop to gleefully score under the posts to give Queensland an improbable 6-4 lead at the half.
Rattled but unperturbed, New South Wales emerged with the same ferocity that had them on the front foot and it was just a matter of time before field position and physicality was manufactured into points.
Corey Parker left the game with a gash on his shin shortly before Cronk was given his marching orders. Blues players appealed for a penalty try to be awarded, but their protests were waved away as Slater was in the vicinity to clear.
The two New South Wales tries with the extra man put them 16-6 to the good, but the six-time defending champs weren’t going to lie down without a fight.
Brilliant fifth tackle teamwork resulted in a second Queensland try on 62 minutes as Darius Boyd one-timed a Johnathan Thurston kick to Greg Inglis who planted it in the corner before a delightful sideline conversion by Thurston brought the Maroons to within four as the Queenslanders sought to capitalise on their late momentum.
As the champs surged wave-by-wave towards the line for what seemed like an inevitable winner in the dying minutes, Jennings atoned for his Melbourne indiscretion by executing one of the most crucial try-saving interventions of his career. With time becoming a factor, the urgency showed which resulted in uncharacteristic handling errors by Queensland, allowing the Blues to prevail 16-12.
Robbie Farah was a workhorse for the Blues, his game-high 64 tackles the physical platform upon which New South Wales orchestrated this series-saving victory.
The ever-dangerous Stewart was the difference-maker in attack, finding himself in all the right places to bag a double, alongside one line break and 126 metres gained.
New South Wales out-tackled Queensland 325-279 and if there was a statistic to measure the impact of the hits, rest assured it would be skewed monumentally in favour of the hosts.
Billy Slater was battered from pillar to post all night and was clearly a New South Wales target, despite accumulating a game-high 168 metres. The fullback received a knock to hit knee early in the game and appeared to play the 80 minutes with severe discomfort.
It would emerge post-game that Slater had sustained a posterior cruciate ligament injury that could sideline the star for a month, dealing the Maroons a significant blow ahead of Game 3, not to mention the Melbourne Storm.
Nate Myles and Cameron Smith did most of the heavy lifting for the visitors with 39 and 36 tackles respectively, but it was a comprehensive and disciplined team effort that drove New South Wales across the line and into a game that could see them re-claim the prize that has eluded them for almost seven years.
The 2012 State of Origin series will now be decided at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday July 4 and tonight’s result ensured it will be the biggest clash between these heated rivals in recent memory.