New South Wales ran riot over the Queensland Maroons in Game 2 of the 2019 State of Origin series off the back of a Tom Trobojevic hat-trick, tying the series with a 38-6 victory.
Three tries in each half was simply too much for the Maroons who struggled in the torrential rain that hampered much of the game.
With the series tied and a thumping for Queensland to recover from, here are five talking points from Game 2.
Four penalty tries in the last four Origin games
Another Origin game, another penalty try controversy. This is the fourth State of Origin game in succession to have a penalty try awarded, dating back to Game 2 of the 2018 series.
“In our opinion, he would have got to the ball.”
That was the response from The Bunker when awarding Queensland a penalty try in the first half, after Will Chambers was ruled to have been taken out.
Jack Wighton was definitely guilty of giving Chambers a nudge in the wrong direction in chasing the kick, but the issue stems from the ball running dead at the end of the play and the try still being given. It’s the same argument that pops up any time a penalty try is given.
Would he have, without a doubt, made it to the ball and grounded it? Maybe, maybe not.
He probably would have planted the pill down to be fair, considering he nearly made it even after the contact, but the contact itself is an issue that seems to be viewed differently each time.
It’s pretty standard fare in this day and age for the defending side to block any kick-chasers. You’d have to think that if New South Wales recovered the ball in goal, or if Chambers missed it by a fair bit, then there wouldn’t have been any penalty at all.
Wighton didn’t dramatically run a mile to get to him, and he didn’t even flatten him enough to stop Chambers from chasing the ball down. The only reason it went upstairs was that there were no other Blues players around, making a pretty normal blocking play look much worse.
Bad enough to be given the six points apparently.
Maloney justifies polarising return
Aside from a couple of forward passes, James Maloney’s first-half return to the Origin arena was exactly what the Blues needed to keep their series alive, racking up two try-assists, a 40/20 and running the New South Wales show ahead of a relatively quiet Nathan Cleary.
His high ball in the 7th-minute setting up a leaping Tom Trobojevic was perfectly placed to put the pressure on Kalyn Ponga and give Trobejovic space to time his run to a tee.
The second try assist was much nicer, turning the Queensland defensive line inside out to hand a four-pointer on a platter to Tyson Frizell with some tidy ball play.
There was more pressure put on Maloney in the second half after his Panthers teammate Cleary was ruled out for the rest of the game with an ankle injury at halftime. While he did have Wade Graham by his side to fill in, Maloney had to take full control.
While a little quieter in general in the second half, an easy thing to do when your team is just rolling over the opposition like they’re not even there, Maloney was still plugging away doing what he needed to.
Leading the backline, kicking into space, staying out of the way in the defensive line. All the typical Maloney things.
Fittler simply has to keep him for Game 3.
Queensland no good? Or New South Wales too good?
There’s is a difference between having a bad game and simply being outplayed. Sometimes though, the line is blurred.
In the first half, the Maroons were simply outplayed. The conditions were tough, very slippery, but both sides were dealing with the same weather and Queensland just didn’t have an answer for it throughout the opening stanza.
They were lucky to only be down by 12 at the break but still looked in the contest with a few strong sets in the opposition half throughout the opening stanza.
The second half was a different story. They were both terrible and outplayed.
The Blues simply could do no wrong, but the Maroons weren’t helping themselves. The penalty count was atrocious for the Queenslanders in the second 40, not allowing themselves to gain any field position, or even possession for the most part.
New South Wales was gifted a lot of ground purely through Queensland’s ill-discipline. They were then good enough to score nearly every single time they had the ball inside the opposition 20. They just ran away with it and there was nothing Queensland could do about it.
I mentioned before that conditions were tough, making life difficult for them, but New South Wales were dealing with the exact same weather and look what they were able to do.
The Maroons have to find a way to turn things around for Gane 3. Another performance like this would be an embarrassing end to the series.
Greatest backline performance in Origin history?
James Tedesco. Josh Addo-Carr. Tom Trbojevic. James Maloney.
Those four guys alone played their best games in the Origin arena, combining for one of the greatest combined backline performances in the rivalries storied history.
Blake Ferguson can’t be forgotten either, nor Jack Wighton despite giving away a penalty try. They both played their part as well.
Trbojevic scored the first New South Wales hat-trick since Matt King all the way back in 2005. Addo-Carr chipped in with two of his own, terrorising the left wing through the game and opening up a tiring defence in the second half like he was playing in the under 12s.
James Tedesco had a career-defining match. One that will, and should be, remembered for some time to come. He was sensational across the park, setting up tries left, right and centre and sidestepping more defenders than you could poke a stick at. His footwork was instrumental in two of Trbojevic’s meat pies.
Maloney was the general of the backline, even when he lost his halves partner Cleary at halftime, he kept the wheels turning, taking control of the side and putting on a clinic. Aside from a couple of forward pass errors in the first stanza, his game was near-flawless.
As a unit, the New South Wales backline had a cracker. Queensland simply had no answer. How could they? Everything they touched turned to gold and the final scoreline proves that.
Will winning away from home become a problem for Queensland?
It’s certainly still shy of becoming a worrisome trend, but Queensland was blown away in Game 2 in Perth and they were beaten in Sydney and Melbourne last year as well.
It has nothing on New South Wales and their (in)famous losing streak over the past decade and a half, but every streak, every problem, has to start somewhere.
They’ve looked average at best in the aforementioned three games away from Suncorp Stadium. If today’s game is anything to go by then the Maroons have some serious work to do on the road.
Every series win relies on winning at least one game away from home. Queensland can’t afford to get stuck in a rut of issues away from home, we saw what that did to the Blues in the past.