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New South Wales vs Queensland
State Of Origin, 24 June, 2018
|Fulltime - New South Wales 18, Queensland 14|
|New South Wales||Queensland|
|Referee: Gerard Sutton|
|Touch judges: Nick Beashel & Brett Suttor|
|Video Referee: Steve Chiddy|
The New South Wales Blues have broken their State of Origin drought, beating the Queensland Maroons by four points in a cliffhanger at ANZ Stadium.
One of the best games in recent Origin memory was a seesawing affair from start to finish, but the Maroons simply ran out of options at the end of the contest.
Penalty tries and sin bins were the story, with the Blues clinching a lead in the run to halftime after Boyd Cordner was taken out by Ben Hunt.
Late in the second half, James Roberts was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul, but the Blues managed to defend their four-point lead with 12 men on the field.
It came after the Maroons scored the first two tries of the match, starting strongly with Billy Slater proving all the difference as first Valentine Holmes and then Dane Gagai crashed over. The Blues opened their account as they turned the first half around through Josh Addo-Carr.
Latrell Mitchell extended the lead early in the second half, but the feelings of yesteryear came back for the Blues when Will Chambers cut the lead with a try.
The Blues managed to hang on though, winning their first Origin series in four years.
New South Wales Blues 18
Queensland Maroons 14
The New South Wales Blues have a chance to take the 2018 State of Origin series in straight sets as they host the Queensland Maroons in Game 2. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:40pm (AEST).
In a lot of ways, this second match of the series feels like it’s almost must-win for the Blues.
Back on home soil for the second game of the series, a loss would leave the men from the first state with the daunting task of winning a decider at Suncorp Stadium should they fail to wrap it up here.
There have been ten deciders in Brisbane – the Blues have won just three and none of the last four – so that goes to show exactly how important it is for the Blues to do it in straight sets.
But this is the best New South Wales have looked in more than a decade. With 11 of the last 12 series ending in defeat, Brad Fittler has the team firing on all cylinders, with his side playing an attacking brand of rugby league in Game 1.
It was always going to be a different series without Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, but with Billy Slater also missing Game 1, it was too much for the Maroons.
In previous years, we have seen Origin played in a slower style, up the middle third of the ground with Queensland winning on the back of a controlled kicking game and superior forward pack. Origin 1 this year was faster, suiting the Blues’ agile forwards and ‘play what they see’ type halves.
The Maroons, in truth, weren’t that far away from the Blues. They were a step off the pace, but still played high-quality footy, and the return of Slater from injury might be enough for them to bridge the gap.
Slater, in his final Origin campaign, will be desperate to go out a winner as Smith, Thurston and Cronk did last year. His rugby league IQ will improve everyone playing around him, and his experience may take some of the pressure off Greg Inglis to lead the side, after the centre did a fantastic job in Game 1.
Kalyn Ponga has also been included and if it’s close in the final half hour, his fresh legs could prove the difference.
Yet, the Blues look so settled. James Tedesco was superb in Game 1, while James Maloney was able to control the last 20 minutes of the game. Nathan Cleary and Damien Cook looked strong on debut and their forwards dominated.
With all that being said, plus the Maroons’ poor historical record at ANZ Stadium – they won just nine times in 26 attempts – it’s hard to see them turning it around.
Slater will provide the Maroons plenty, but not enough to avoid being beaten. New South Wales will claim the Origin series today.
New South Wales by 6.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Game 2 from 7:40pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment below.