The NRL Round 18 teams are in, with the St George-Illawarra Dragons welcoming back James Graham from long injury layoff ahead of their must-win clash with Penrith.
What a game that was! The Queensland ‘never say die’ attitude was on show last night.
They came back miraculously from the dead and turned around a 10-point deficit, to a two-point victory.
The New South Welshmen seemed to have the game wrapped up and seemingly parked the bus with 20 minutes to go. It seemed 20 minutes was too long for Queensland, as they scored two tries to steal a famous victory.
More State of Origin 2
» Queensland’s champions refuse to lose
» Match report: Maroons steal Game 2 win to force a decider
» Watch all the Origin 2 highlights
» Why the State of Origin man of the match process is broken
» WATCH: Andrew Johns blasts the Blues’ woeful second half
Some players stepped up in the bright lights and some shirked the opportunity.
Some players were found out in such a big game and some players returned to Origin and didn’t disappoint.
Here are my player ratings for the victorious Queensland side:
1. Billy Slater – 7.5
Excellent in his return to the Origin arena. Showed why he should’ve been selected in the 1st game. His speed with ball in hand caused defensive lapses for NSW.
2. Valentine Holmes – 6
Mixed bag for the debutant. Scored on debut, but also had a few errors. Picked up his head and kept going on. Has a long future in this arena.
3. Will Chambers – 6.5
Lost the battle early against Jarryd Hayne when Hayne scored on him and constantly showed him the touch line. Recovered well in the second half and took back the match up with more room to move and a great offload to set up Gagai’s first try.
4. Darius Boyd – 5.5
Playing out of position, he wasn’t much of a factor on offence. Did what was required of him on defence, as the ball seemed to play mostly on Chambers’ side. Will retain his spot, regardless.
5. Dane Gagai – 9
The best player on the field. Constantly thrown under pressure by high balls from Pearce. Took them all in his stride and ran for a massive 24 hit ups. Bagged himself a double and constantly ran his butt off. Has yet to played poorly on the Origin arena.
6. Johnathan Thurston – 6
Obviously hampered by a severe shoulder problem, Thurston was a shadow of his brilliant self. Kicked the winning goal under intense circumstances. Will try his best to finish his Origin career a winner in Brisbane.
7. Cooper Cronk – 5
Extremely quiet. Didn’t guide his team around as he has done in the past. Solid in defence but a little confused on attack. Will play his last Origin game in the decider.
8. Dylan Napa – 8
Absolute monster performance with 14 runs and 30 tackles. He was the best prop on the field. Stood up when needed.
9. Cameron Smith – 8.5
The architect who willed his team to victory. Cronk had a surprisingly quiet night and Thurston injured, Smith overplayed his normal game to force his team to win. Absolute standstill performance from the skipper.
10. Jarod Wallace – 4
Solid start to his career. Didn’t feature much after his first stint, but will be better for it.
11. Gavin Cooper – 7.5
Queensland’s silent assassin. Finished the game with 47 tackles and always ran his hardest. Much better choice, rather than the out-of-form Sam Thaiday. His combination with JT is vital for QLDs left side.
12. Matt Gillett – 6
Filled up the stat sheet, but not his best Origin performance. Touted a leader of the forward pack but will need to step up more in Game 3.
13. Josh McGuire – 8.5
Was huge for Queensland in his best performance in a Maroon jersey. Topped the QLD tackle count with 49 tackles. Made the decisive break to reignite QLD’s resurgence.
14. Michael Morgan – 6.5
Set up the winning try with his noted offload flick and added spark to the QLD attack. Great weapon to have off the bench.
15. Josh Papali’i – 5
Played well in the first game as a starter. Relegated to impact off the bench for this game and didn’t make much of an impact. Needs to step up for Game 3. QLD will need his massive carries to win in Brisbane.
16. Coen Hess – 6.5
Was effective when he came on in the dying minutes. Strong runner and great first up contact in tackles. He has a massive future in the Origin arena.
17. Tim Glasby – 3
Not the best start to his Origin career. Missed a few tackles to let in two of NSW’s tries. Will be better for it for Game 3.
Here are my player ratings for New South Wales.
1. James Tedesco – 6.5
If it weren’t for his HIA, could’ve easily got a higher score. Constant threat when he returned the ball. Set up Pearce’s try with a great run off a great inside ball.
2. Brett Morris – 5
Was robbed of quality ball from his inside men at times. Scored a good try and tried hard on defence against a running machine in Gagai. Classy player.
3. Josh Dugan – 7
Made some huge plays including a great ball and all tackle on Cronk and then cleaning up the JT grubber in the same set. Seems to thrive under the bright lights of Origin.
4. Jarryd Hayne – 4.5
NSW saviour in Game 1. Started strongly with a try and a try assist, but completed the full spiral down towards the end of the game. Drop balls, lacklustre defensive efforts and wild passes to his wing, all led to his demise. Will need to be at his brilliant best for Game 3.
5. Blake Ferguson – 5.5
Wasn’t heavily featured, but when asked to make a big carry, he put his hand up. May be under pressure to keep his spot for Game 3.
6. James Maloney – 7.5
Controlled their dominant first half well. Darted well and was always scary with ball in hand. Great goal kicker and in game kicker of the ball. The better half for NSW.
7. Mitchell Pearce – 5
Back to his old Origin form. Hid when the game was on the line. Didn’t take the game by the throat when needed. Great support play leading to his try.
8. Aaron Woods – 7
Played much better this time round. Led his pack when the other forwards didn’t step up. Will need to continue that to Suncorp.
9. Nathan Peats – 7.5
Will always rake up a high score because he does what he can do, to the best of his ability and nothing more. Doesn’t force his hand in any play and tackles all night long. Made a massive 57 tackles! The perfect hooker for this NSW set up.
10. Andrew Fifita – 5
Man of the Match in Game 1 – held very quiet tonight. Didn’t produce anything significant of mentioning. Consistency is a massive problem for him.
11. Boyd Cordner – 8
The perfect captain for NSW. Great leader all done by his actions. Took the heavy carries when they were needed. Always strong in defence.
12. Josh Jackson – 9
NSW best player on the field. Ran hard. Tackled hard. Did what was required of him.
13. Tyson Frizell – 6.5
Started the game well aiming al his attention towards Thurston. Fell off his tactics in the second half, which cost them massively. Always plays hard.
14. David Klemmer – 7.5
Picked up the slack from Fifita. Always ran direct and carried a few defenders with him. Will continue to play hard for NSW whenever called upon.
15. Wade Graham – 4.5
Some massive mistakes on his behalf. Missed tackle on McGuire led to Gagai’s first try. His strip on QLD’s line, led to QLD marching down the field and eventually scoring a match winning try. Will learn from his mistake, but very out of character performance for Wade.
16. Jake Trbojevic – 8.5
Will be a captain of NSW at some point in time and will wear the sky blue 13 jersey for a long, long time. He is a great player who plays with his heart on his sleeve, every game. His pass to Tedesco set up a great Pearce try. Absolute beast off the bench.
17. Jack Bird – 3.5
Didn’t have much impact on the game. Knocked the ball on which led to QLD’s final game winning try. Should be pushing for a starting spot very soon.
The decider in three weeks’ time just may be the biggest Origin decider of all-time.
Will the ageing Queensland team win it for their champion halves, or will the new New South Wales dynasty begin?
Bring on Game 3!