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Queensland vs New South Wales
State Of Origin, 31 May, 2017
|Fulltime - Queensland 4, New South Wales 28|
|Queensland||New South Wales|
|Referee: Matt Cecchin|
|Touch judges: Brett Suttor & Chris Butler|
|Video Referee: Bernard Sutton|
The NSW Blues have defeated the Queensland Maroons 28 to 4 in the opening game of the 2017 State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
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After entering the half-time break with an eight-point lead thanks to tries from Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney, the Blues put in a commanding offensive and defensive effort in the second half to secure the 24-point win.
Fullback James Tedesco scored the first try of the second half, before Andrew Fifita capitalised on a knock-on on Queensland’s line to score.
Jarryd Hayne then finished off the scoring by scything through the Queensland defence to seal the game with more than 20 minutes still to play.
Tedesco and centre Josh Dugan then pulled of astonishing try-saving tackles to deny Matt Gillett and Aidan Guerra, refusing to let Queensland back into the game.
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State of Origin is back for another year, and for the first time in a decade, the Queensland Maroons have more questions than answers heading into Game 1 against the New South Wales Blues. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the series opener from 8:15pm (AEST).
The Maroons have been struck down by injuries and, combined with retirement, it’s a vastly different side to the one that began the 2016 series.
The loss of Corey Parker can’t be understated, but it’s intensified by injuries to three Maroon greats in Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and the game’s best player, Johnathan Thurston – although he should be back for Game 2.
That’s balanced out by Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, who are under the pump on home soil. With a fit-again Billy Slater overlooked, incumbent fullback Darius Boyd is another Queenslander under extreme pressure tonight.
Queensland are battling up front as well. Dylan Napa is a fresh face, but the pack looks a little tired – Nate Myles is averaging less than 40 minutes on the field per game this year – while the bench surprisingly includes Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra with Jarrod Wallace and Coen Hess left out.
Ultimately, it all comes back to the Smith-Cronk combination and how they combine with rookie Anthony Milford, who’s running game could shine against tired forwards in the second half.
Kevin Walters’ side also have the advantage of playing at The Cauldron, Suncorp Stadium, where they have won 33 of 51 matches.
While NSW can’t match their opposition’s experience, they do have plenty of talented players running around.
It’s a fresh-looking Blues side, with Paul Gallen hanging up the representative boots, while some of the stalwarts from the last decade like Robbie Farah and Michael Jennings were overlooked.
Instead, the reins are handed to Nathan Peats at hooker and Jarryd Hayne will make his return to the Origin arena after last playing in the Blues’ only series win of the last 11 years – 2014.
The halves are familiar for Laurie Daley’s side, with Mitchell Pearce’s club form once again warranting selection despite his woeful representative form (he’s lost 11 of the 15 Origin matches he’s played). Premiership-winning half James Maloney.
Maloney’s form hasn’t been all that brilliant, and with fullback James Tedesco also struggling at club level, there are major questions over NSW – there always seems to be.
Home-ground advantage, combined with the fact Smith and Cronk are the two best and most experienced players on the park, will just get Queensland over the line.
Maroons by 2.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Game 1 of the 2017 State of Origin series from 8:15pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment below.