If Billy Slater is suspended, perhaps he can still have a farewell in a championship decider – but back in front of his adoring home fans.
The State of Origin series heads to Brisbane for a dead rubber, if there is ever such a thing in this arena. This is The Roar‘s expert tipping panel for Game 3.
More Origin 3
» GORE: Queensland prove every single Origin match matters
» Who rose to the occasion for the Maroons? All Queensland players rated
» Every New South Wales player’s Game 3 effort rated
» Seven talking points from Origin 3
» WATCH: Complete match highlights from Billy Slater’s triumphant farewell
The New South Wales Blues have seemingly brought the Maroons dynasty to an end. After more than a decade of heartache, the Blues lead two-nil heading to Brisbane for the third and final match.
While this series was always going to be tough for Queensland without Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater (the latter for Game 1 at least), the Blues winning in straight sets is not something many predicted or thought might happen.
But alas, here we are. Game 3, the Maroons facing a sweep on home soil.
Series sweeps have been incredibly rare across the course of Origin history. Since 2000, there has only been two sweeps – one being in 2000 and the other in 2010 when Queensland won three games to nothing.
Incredibly, the Maroons had just one sweep throughout their incredible run with the Blues saving three of them. Queensland also saved a sweep in 2014. So that makes a success record of one sweep out of five opportunities since 2006.
If we go back even further, there have only been seven series sweeps out of 17 opportunities in the history of Origin, so that shows you how rare it is.
Apart from all that about sweeps, this is Billy Slater’s final game and Queensland won’t go down without a fight, despite the Blues dominance during the first two games of the series.
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Tip: New South Wales by 18
DCE is in the unenviable position of trying to lead his state to a face-saving win with a vastly understrength side. It’s akin to Jamie Whincup being given the keys to an HQ Holden and told to win this year’s Bathurst.
However, the Maroons are at home can never be counted out. They’ve avoided whitewashes at home four times and only been whitewashed twice in the whole history of Origin (PS I don’t know what happened in 1997, it doesn’t count anyway).
New South Wales mean to grind the Maroons underfoot to try and erase the pain of thirteen years of humiliation and those endless, cocky Queensland supporters constantly dishing out crap. I just think they want it bad and the Maroons won’t be able to repel.
I tip Jimmy Maloney to star and Queensland hearts to break.
First try-scorer: Latrell Mitchell
Man of the match: James Maloney
Tip: Queensland by 14
I’d love to say that the Blues will complete a rare clean sweep at Suncorp, but I think that Queensland simply have more to play for in this one. From Billy Slater’s final game, to Daly Cherry-Evans’ return to the Origin arena and the Maroons setting a platform for 2019, it just feels like Queensland want it more.
And let’s be honest, despite the fact that NSW won the opening two games of the series, Queensland were highly competitive in both fixtures, and probably should have won Game 2 in Sydney.
The addition of Cherry-Evans will bring a touch of polish to the end of each set and his ability to execute under pressure will help the Maroons make the most of those ‘Origin moments’, which is something they lacked with Ben Hunt at halfback. And although the loss of Greg Inglis will be detrimental to the Queensland’s defensive structures, I think the inclusion of Corey Oates will have a positive impact on their attack.
I still believe that the Blues have the potential to blow Queensland out of the water and score a bag of points. Their backline is oozing with try-scoring potential, and if their attack finally clicks, things could get ugly in a hurry for the Maroons. But there is too much at stake for Queensland to let that happen.
Dead rubber? In Origin, there’s no such thing.
First try-scorer: Valentine Holmes
Man of the match: Daly Cherry-Evans
Tip: Queensland by 14
Here we are, Origin three and the general consensus is that Queensland are on their knees and New South Wales will be freewheeling all over the top of them for a decade to come.
You won’t find that view here though. I think Freddie’s boys are happy with winning so far and have thusly spent this barefoot week stretching and sharing confidences. They’re not ready for the wall of hate and wave of noise that’s coming their way after two games with supportive crowds and fortunate results.
Remember, because I’ve said this a lot here on The Roar – Queensland have been right in this series but have cost themselves dearly with bad attacking options, penalties at crucial times and some missed conversions. Just like 2017 and Jarryd Hayne’s attempted miracle ball, the result could be vastly different if just one thing in a game went another way.
I’m tipping this result because Queensland will be well and truly amped for this game and I anticipate they’ll make the first 20 minutes count much more effectively than they have so far during the series.
Billy Slater will want make his last go round in maroon something memorable and his team mates will remember that a decent game three can keep you in the eyes of the selectors for the following series. Players like Will Chambers and Jarrod Wallace need to make this game count or they’re unlikely to reappear in 2019.
I know the overwhelming ‘vibe’ is that the Blues will roll on for their first Origin whitewash since 2000, but I don’t see that happening. Load up on the home state.
First try-scorer: Felise Kaufusi
Man of the match: Cameron Munster
Tips: New South Wales by 10
The Maroons might be back at home and trying to save a sweep, but they have been outplayed in the first two games of this series and I’m far from convinced the changes they have made to their side are the correct ones.
Daly Cherry-Evans has never excelled at the next level, so to see him get another chance while Ben Hunt has been dropped to the bench and Ashley Taylor overlooked altogether is somewhat mind-boggling.
Hunt back to the bench isn’t exactly going to improve his level either. It’s sure to do nothing but knock his confidence around moving forward.
The Blues have made no changes ahead of the third game and their balanced squad has been enough to knock Queensland off the park pretty well in the first two games.
Sure, playing in Queensland isn’t going to be easy, but no one wants to lift the Shield after a loss.
They will be under the pump, but given the way James Tedesco has been playing along with the control shown by James Maloney, they should have enough in the tank to get the job done.
First try-scorer: Valentine Holmes
Man of the match: James Tedesco
|QLD v NSW||Tim||Tom||AJ||Scott||The Crowd|
|Man of the match||Maloney||Cherry-Evans||Munster||Tedesco||Slater|
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