The New South Wales Blues head to a hostile Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane to take on the Queensland Maroons in Game 3 of the 2012 State of Origin series, with a sellout home crowd cheering on the Maroons to in seven in a row. Join us for live scores and commentary from 7:30pm AEST.
It all comes down to this. The 2012 State of Origin series has been one to remember and will conclude tonight with an explosive encounter between two teams desperate to win.
Queensland will be looking to win their seventh series in a row, thus continuing an Origin legacy that started way back in 2006.
New South Wales will be hoping they can start a legacy of their own by claiming their first series victory in seven years.
If the Blues were to win tonight, it could signal the beginning of a new era of competitiveness for New South Wales, after suffering many years of interstate heartache.
For New South Wales to win tonight, halfback Mitchell Pearce will need to pick up his kicking game in the Origin arena. He needs significant improvement if he is to make the most of the strong work the Blues produce upfront.
Although the Maroons are without Billy Slater (knee), Greg Inglis has slotted in to and is just as capable of producing devastating kick returns if Pearce fails to find the grass with his kicks.
If Pearce and Todd Carney can kick intelligently, it will go a long way to putting Queensland on the back foot against a Blues pack that has dominated the opening two Origin encounters.
Paul Gallen, James Tamou, Anthony Watmough, Robbie Farah and Tim Grant were hugely strong upfront for New South Wales in Game 2 and will once again cause problems if Pearce and Carney can win field position with their kicking games.
Maintaining discipline and keeping errors at a minimum will also prove crucial to New South Wales’ chances of winning tonight.
The Blues can ill-afford to put themselves under unnecessary pressure against a Queensland side eager to make a strong impression at home.
Maroons halves Cooper Cronk and Johnathon Thurston in particular will be desperate to perform well tonight given that both players have struggled to really perform for Queensland in the opening two matches.
Playing away from home, the last thing the Blues need to do is offer an invitation for Thurston and Cronk to dominate play, by making errors and giving away stupid penalties in their own half.
Roar expert Tim Prentice expects the Maroons will hit peak form and be back to their “awesome best” when it matters most after being below expectations in the first two games.
With Queensland set to come out all guns blazing, it is important for New South Wales to weather the early storm and stay in the arm wrestle for the opening 20 minutes.
If the Blues do end up conceding first points, Queensland will seize momentum, and at home, they will be very difficult to run down, particularly if Thurston, Cronk, Cameron Smith and Inglis hit their groove.
With history firmly on the line tonight, this may become one of the best Origin deciders in history.
Despite the very promising performances from New South Wales thus far, expect Queensland to go up a few gears at home. Can they emerge victorious against a Blues team that will come out hard, but who have been susceptible to falling away in the dying minutes?