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New South Wales
New South Wales
Queensland have defeated New South Wales 18-14 in Game 1 of the 2019 State of Origin series.
The Blues started the better of the two sides, dominating the first half – despite two disallowed Queensland tries – to take an 8-0 lead into the sheds.
But it was a completely different Maroons side that emerged from the break, hemming the visitors against their own try-line for virtually the entire half, with two second-half tries to Dane Gagai helping the home side steal a thrilling 18-14 victory.
The Queensland Maroons have home ground advantage and will be desperate to erase the memory of a series loss in Game 1 of the 2019 State of Origin series against the New South Wales Blues. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 8:10pm (AEST).
This feels like the beginning of an uncertain new era of State of Origin. While the Blues ushered in 11 debutants last series, the Maroons have this year lost the last of their ageing brigade of stars.
There is no more Greg Inglis or Billy Slater, but instead Kalyn Ponga, Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster headline Kevin Walters’ side. The Blues, on the other hand, will blood another five debutants tonight.
New South Wales did win the series last year, but playing Game 1 on the road is never an easy task, with Queensland often putting their best performances at Suncorp Stadium.
The difference between the sides isn’t as great as some would have you believe, but there are a number of questions to be asked about the Maroons, namely the fitness of Daly Cherry-Evans and the risk of going into the game without a recognised hooker.
This will be Cherry-Evans’ first game back since his syndesmosis injury five weeks ago, but the new skipper would have been one of the first picked in this side.
Dragons halfback Ben Hunt will line up at hooker, with Moses Mbye on the bench. Those selections came after injuries to Jake Friend and Anthony McCullough.
Coming into Origin without a recognised hooker is a major risk, and it may well be exposed in the second half, however, Munster and Ponga are two of the best players in the NRL.
The Blues have gone with an out-of-form Nathan Cleary in the halves, where he’s joined by debutant Cody Walker. They were picked following injuries to Adam Reynolds, Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary.
New South Wales look to be the stronger side, with James Tedesco and Damien Cook returning for another run at fullback and hooker respectively, while Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell are both lethal.
The difference maker could be in the forwards. Paul Vaughan and David Klemmer have been two of the top props this year, and while Jai Arrow and Josh Papalii deserve plenty of credit, they aren’t in the same class. Nor does the Queensland bench have the experience to handle an early battering.
The Blues forwards must be to direct a mountain of traffic at Ben Hunt, who will fatigue if he is forced to play big minutes in the middle.
New South Wales are stronger across the park, and with a lack of a dummy half it’s hard to see Queensland getting up, even at home.
Blues by 10.
Kick-off: 8:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland
TV: Live, Channel 9
Online: Live, 9Now
Betting: Maroons $1.95, Blues $1.85
Overall record: Played 114, Maroons 61, Blues 51, drawn 2
Last meeting: Game 3, 2018 – Queensland defeat New South Wales 18-12 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Last year’s series: New South Wales 2 – Queensland Maroons 1
Record at venue: Played 55, Maroons 35, Blues 20
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Ashley Klein
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Michael Morgan, 5. Dane Gagai, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Jai Arrow, 9. Ben Hunt, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 11. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire.
Bench: 14. Moses Mbye, 15. Joe Ofahengaue, 16. Dylan Napa, 17. David Fifita
New South Wales Blues
1. James Tedesco, 2. Josh Addo-Carr, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Boyd Cordner (c), 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jake Trbojevic.
Bench: 14. Jack Wighton, 15. Payne Haas, 16. Tyrone Peachey, 17. Angus Crichton