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New South Wales Vs. Queensland
2016 NRL State of Origin, 2 June, 2016
|ANZ Stadium, Sydney, NSW|
|Queensland 6 defeated New South Wales 4|
|New South Wales||Queensland|
|Referee: Sutton, G|
|Touch judges: Beashel, N & Younis, J|
The Queensland Maroons have won a hard-fought, physical encounter in the first State of Origin game by just two points over the New South Wales Blues at ANZ Stadium.
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There was simply no energy left on the paddock after 80 minutes, with every single player left exhausted and desperately trying to take their respective teams to the victory.
It was low scoring, with only 10 points from wall to wall, and the game focused on the middle third for almost the entirety. The forward packs took turns at getting the upper hand, but with only one try a piece there was some poor execution, and some fantastic defence.
In the end, it would be a penalty goal to split the teams with the Blues unable to make anything happen in a second half where no points were scored by either team and they spent plenty of time on the Queensland line.
Queensland 6 defeated New South Wales 4
The New South Wales Blues will be hoping home ground advantage counts as they look to reverse the thumping last year against the Queensland Maroons. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of State of Origin Game 1 from 8:00pm (AEST).
After going into Game 3 last year tied at one game all, the Maroons would break records, winning 52-6.
It was clear the Blues were going to make changes moving forward, and that is exactly what they have done with four debutants and the only surviving players being Josh Morris, Michael Jennings, Aaron Woods, James Tamou, Paul Gallen, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner and David Klemmer – meaning there are nine changes.
The much-scrutinised halves of New South Wales again take on a new form, with the in-form James Maloney recalled along with Adam Reynolds making his debut. Josh Mansour debuts on the wing, while Matt Moylan is called in at fullback.
In what came as a surprise to many, Dylan Walker has also been named as the Blues bench utility.
The Maroons, meanwhile, have been forced to hand both Justin O’Neill and Corey Oates spots in the backline, with the retirement of Justin Hodges, and long-term injury to Billy Slater. That is just about all the changes, though, with Jacob Lillyman the unlucky one – both Josh McGuire and Josh Papalii being preferred.
Neither team’s preparation for Origin has been without hassle, with Josh Dugan forced to pull out due to an elbow injury. Josh Morris was released from the squad, but called back in – much to the dislike of the Canterbury Bulldogs just hours before he was due to play on Sunday.
The Maroons suffered a scare on Friday, with Cooper Cronk going down to an ankle injury. Reports suggest he will be able to play, but the Maroons have stated they will give him until kick-off to prove his fitness.
With rain during the week in Sydney, and more expected for the game – the forward packs and kicking game will dictate which way it goes.
The Blues have been known in the past to play a bash and barge game up the middle – something they won the series on the back of in 2014, but up against the likes of Matt Scott and Nate Myles and two of the best kickers in the game – Cronk and Johnathan Thurston they will need to be perfect.
The other thing to take into account is the game more than likely won’t be high scoring, and could very well be close at the end. With Reynolds and Moylan both on debut, alot may come down to Maloney and how he handles the pressure against the experienced Maroons outfit.
It’s tough to go past the experience of the Maroons – despite the desperation the Blues will show to win at home.
Maroons by 2.
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Follow Scott on Twitter @sk_pryde