State of Origin Game 3: Why Queensland will win the decider

Daniel Jeffrey Editor

By , Daniel Jeffrey is a Roar Editor

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    And so it all comes down to this: a decider in the cauldron of Suncorp Stadium.

    It’s safe to assume this one won’t end in the bloodbath we saw two years ago, when Johnathan Thurston ran riot and everyone in New South Wales remembered the first day of the 2015 Ashes was way more important anyway.

    So, even though the series scoreline is the same as this time back in 2015, and even though Mitchell Pearce is still playing for the Blues, we won’t be seeing a 52-6 result tonight.

    Because, on paper, New South Wales are the better team.

    More Origin 3 coverage:
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    » Five talking points from Origin Game 3
    » WATCH: Highlights from Origin Game 3
    » How it happened: Re-live Game 3 with our Origin live scores, blog and highlights

    They’ve dominated three of the four halves of footy played this year, and were it not for a truly abysmal half hour at the end of Game 2, this would be a dead rubber.

    For all that, they’re not going to win, even with Thurston gone for the series (and Origin for good).

    The Blues have the forward dominance, and the backline flair to capitalise on the metres gained, but there’s a big difference between pulling off a comfortable win in the series opener and closing out a series in enemy territory.

    With everything pointing to this game being a nail-biter, the Blues unfortunately showed in Game 2 they don’t now how to win close games. Not yet, anyway.

    Queensland Maroons' Billy Slater and Copper Cronk celebrate winning State of Origin 2013

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    The Maroons have that ability in spades; they’ve been doing it for a decade. And while they mightn’t have the same on-paper quality as New South Wales, they’re hardly a team of mugs.

    Valentine Holmes and Will Chambers are as good as anyone else in the NRL in their positions. Dane Gagai has been Queensland’s player of the series so far, no mean feat for an outside back. Michael Morgan was instrumental in the Maroons’ match-winning try in Sydney, and Cameron Munster has screamed ‘Origin player’ for some time now. Don’t expect him to be overawed on his debut.

    The forwards lack the class and explosivity of their New South Wales counterparts, but players like Josh McGuire, Dylan Napa, Matt Gillett and Josh Papalii are good enough to keep the game tight.

    However, it’s the Melbourne Storm trio of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater who will win the Maroons this game. They have the tactical nous and Origin experience to manage the game to perfection. They’ve won deciders before – albeit with Thurston in their ranks – and will be hungry as ever to win this one.

    They won’t be able to get their side off to a lightning-quick start to the decider (and if the Blues get on a Game 1-like roll early on, the Maroons are gone), but with a rabid crowd urging them on, and with the chance to send Thurston (and likely Cronk) an Origin series winner, there’s no way Queensland will collapse like they did on May 31.

    Watch them absorb early pressure, then surge slowly but surely back into the game, managing their field position perfectly and outsmarting their less experienced (and far less decorated) Blues counterparts.

    After all, the Maroons have won these games time and time again over the past decade. Who’s to say they won’t do it again?

    Daniel Jeffrey
    Daniel Jeffrey

    Daniel is Editor of The Roar. You can catch him on Twitter @_d_jeffrey.

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