New South Wales Blues 26
Queensland Maroons 18
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An awesome game in State of Origin game 2 from the Melbourne Cricket Ground has seen the New South Wales Blues take out the game by 8 points, sending the series to a decider in game 3 at Suncorp Stadium in a couple of weeks time.
The referees have to be credited for maintaining the 10 metre defensive line, allowing the game to be free flowing and for plenty of points to be scored. However they will still probably be one of the key talking points tomorrow.
The Blues dominated the early exchanges of the game off the back of a couple of penalties blown against the Maroons and Michael Jennings was able to cross for the opening try in the fourth minute off the back of a James Tamou offload.
The Maroons slowly evened up the game and got things rolling again, aided by a couple of penalties against the Blues. Matt Scott was then able to cross for the Maroons in the 12th minute, in what was a very, very soft display of defence from the Blues. The Blues would have been worried by that however, they continued the first half as the better team.
The next 10 minutes or so were very back and forth between the two teams before Josh Morris finally managed to crack the Maroons defensive line off the back a wonderful kick across field from Mitchell Pearce.
The Maroons however, only took seven minutes to hit back, with a try to Greg Inglis after a damaging play from half way through Thurston, Slater, Inglis himself and Darius Boyd who threw the final pass back inside. Thurston however missed the conversion leaving the Maroons two points behind.
The Blues then got the chance for a penalty goal right on the stroke of halftime, leaving them four points ahead at the break with the score line reading 14 points to 10.
After the break, the Blues really looked to be stuck in first gear as the Maroons has a number of sets right on the Blues goal line before finally cracking them in the 47th minute, with a barge over try to Matt Gillett.
The Maroons then received there own penalty and took the two, giving them a four point lead with around half an hour to play.
The Blues then slowly got themselves back into the arm wrestle and Aaron Woods was able to barge over in the 62nd minute against some very soft defence. Following that try the momentum of the game seemed to shift as the Blues took the lead and the Maroons seemed genuinely challenged to hang on for periods of time.
The major talking point from the game however will come from the 13 minute to go mark as Mitchell Pearce drifted across the line for the Blues and appeared to lose the ball, with Greg Inglis racing 100 metres to score. On review however with the video referee it was ruled that Michael Morgan had raked the ball out and knocked it on, thus bringing it back to a scrum for the Blues just 10 metres out.
With two sets on the Maroons line the Blues and Josh Dugan managed to make the Maroons pay as he crashed over with what was a very good run. The ensuing conversion took the Blues lead out to 8 and that would be all the scoring wrote.
There were plenty of dust ups throughout and some more in the last 10 minutes as the Blues managed to hang on. Ryan Hoffman, Michael Jennings and the Morris brothers were all fantastic for the Blues, with Mitchell Pearce and Josh Dugan good in patches. Meanwhile for the Maroons it was Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston along with Billy Slater who were best on ground.
All in all a fantastic game of rugby league, played in front of a massive crowd as the Blues proved to be the better side winning by eight points.
The teams travel to the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Game 2 of State of Origin. Can the NSW Blues push the series to three games or will the Queensland Maroons win in straight sets?
Find out as The Roar brings you live scores and coverage from 8pm (AEST).
The first game of the series saw a single-point victory to the Maroons.
It was an absolute credit to the Blues’ defence that they managed to hold out attacking raid after raid on their line. At one point the Blues had four dropouts in a row and the Maroons simply couldn’t find a way over the tryline.
Eventually it took a Cooper Cronk field goal to sink the Blues.
Moving onto Game 2, Cronk has been ruled out with a knee injury he sustained while playing for the Melbourne Storm.
Queensland have called upon manly half Daly Cherry-Evans, who recently backflipped on a deal to play in Queensland for the Gold Coast Titans from next year. There are questions over whether this could effect the mood of the squad, however the Maroons have enough experience at this level now to get over any problems Cherry-Evans could be causing.
The problem the Maroons really face is that they will be worse off without Cronk. Cherry-Evans is a good player, however the difference in the Maroons when Cronk was out last year was massive.
The only other alteration to the Maroons squad from Game 1 is the addition of Josh Papalii, Dane Gagai and Korbin Sims to an extended squad.
Meanwhile, for the Blues two massive inclusions come into the side after being out injured in Game 1, with captain Paul Gallen returning at lock and veteran Brett Morris on the wing. The players to miss out are Andrew Fifita, with Josh Jackson moving back to the bench, and Daniel Tupou who is straight out of the side.
Fifita is incredibly unlucky to miss out for the Blues. He has a good game in Game 1 while two other bench players in Trent Merrin and Boyd Cordner were sparingly used and seemed to go missing. There are also questions about whether Morris and Gallen are underdone, having only played one club game each since returning from injury.
The Blues’ attack also struggled in Game 1 and although they had limited ball, it was of their own doing with plenty of mistakes early in the second half. With fatigue setting in at the end of the game they could have really done with a bench utility to spark their offence. The same will apply in Game 2 – Michael Morgan was excellent for the Maroons.
With Cronk out and the way both teams struggled in attack during Game 1, it will be a low-scoring game and the Blues should be able to bounce back.
Blues by 4.
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