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New South Wales vs Queensland
State Of Origin, 21 June, 2017
|Fulltime - New South Wales 16, Queensland 18|
|New South Wales||Queensland|
|Referee: Matt Cecchin|
|Touch judges: Brett Suttor & Chris Butler|
|Video Referee: Bernard Sutton|
The 2017 State of Origin series is going to a decider, with the Queensland Maroons defeating the NSW Blues 18-16 in Game 2 in Sydney.
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Dane Gagai was the star of the show for the Maroons as he scored a double, including one three minutes from time before Johnathan Thurston kicked a goal from the sideline to put the game away in the dying minutes.
It was a courageous performance from Thurston, who seemed to be struggling with a shoulder injury during the second half but soldiered on nonetheless.
The Maroons won’t be over the moon with their performance. It was anything but perfect, but they held their composure during the dying minutes and the class of Thurston, alongside Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith rose to the fore to get the job done.
The Blues looked like the better team for the much of the night. Valentine Holmes scored the opening try on debut for the Maroons in the corner, despite some controversy with the winger potentially putting a foot on the line. It was ruled a try though.
New South Wales held the momentum for the rest of the first half though, running on three tries through Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris and Mitchell Pearce, the last two on long-range efforts.
James Maloney’s missed conversion from out wide came back to haunt the Blues though, who failed to register another point.
Gagai scored the first try of the second half, with the Blues bombing opportunities left, right and centre and despite the Maroons unable to grasp control of the game, they didn’t let any more points in, turning up time and time again.
The Blues made errors, gave away penalties and played what could only be described as poor football trying to defend their lead, and in the end it was always going to prove futile.
The Maroons then, sending the 2017 series to a decider back home in three weeks where they surely will enter as favourites.
New South Wales Blues 16
Queensland Maroons 18
The State of Origin series is on the line for the Queensland Maroons when they face the NSW Blues in Game 2 tonight. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 8:15pm (AEST).
After going down 28-4 in the series opener, the Maroons have made seven changes in an attempt to send it to a decider in three weeks back at home.
Winning in Sydney will be easier said than done against a Blues side that dominated in Game 1, but with Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater back in the team, the Maroons are a force to be reckoned with.
A third change in the backline brings Cronulla Sharks and Australian winger Valentine Holmes in for his State of Origin debut, with Corey Oates, Justin O’Neill and Anthony Milford out and Darius Boyd shifting from fullback to the centres.
In the forwards, the sweeping changes continue. Nate Myles is out, bringing Jarrod Wallace from 18th man to the front row, while Josh Papalii shifts back to the bench, allowing for Gavin Cooper to move in at second row.
On the bench, veterans Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman are all out, with debutants Coen Hess and the left-field selection of Tim Glasby claiming the remaining spots.
It might be a break from tradition for the Queenslanders to make so many changes, but it had to be done. Their forward pack looked old during Game 1 – they couldn’t keep up in the second half as the Blues ran rampant.
NSW have also broken a trend of their, picking the same 17 in consecutive Origin games for the first time in over 20 years. With no injuries, there was no need to change such a dominant side.
Particularly impressive was the spine. James Tedesco, Mitchell Pearce, James Maloney and Nathan Peats were all sensational, despite coming into the game with varying levels of club form.
Pearce played his best ever Origin game and with Tedesco dangerous and Peats offering quality service, it set the forward pack to roll over Queensland.
Andrew Fifita was undoubtedly the man of the match with a huge performance, but it was a complete team effort from the Blues. Identifying a poor player for NSW from Game 1 is just about impossible.
While Queensland weren’t bad in the series opener, Cameron Smith was uncharacteristically quiet, which heaped the pressure on Cooper Cronk who, for the first time in his Origin career, couldn’t rise to fill the void.
If Queensland don’t get blown off the park early, and Jarrod Wallace and Dylan Napa can weather the early storm from the Blues, they will be in the driver’s seat.
The Maroons have won ten of the last 11 State of Origin series with this spine. Sure, they are older, but they are still four of the best players in the game and won’t allow this to be over in two games.
Maroons by 4.
Be sure to join The Roar for live scores and coverage of Game 2 from 8:15pm (AEST) and don’t forget to get involved by commenting your thoughts in the section below.