The crucial second game of the Australian State of Origin 2020 series from the ANZ Stadium in Sydney was a mouth-watering prospect as the cream of the Aussie game met to do battle for the pride of their birthplace.
A week ago, Queensland came from behind to beat New South Wales in an enthralling game at the Adelaide Oval. After trailing 10-0 at the interval they recorded an 18-14 win to put them in pole position to overcome two years of heartache to win the three-match series.
NSW made five changes with Walker in for Keary, and Hass in for the injured Cordner. Brown, Finucane and Yeo were on the bench and Crichton was in the starting line-up with Paulo on the bench. QLD had Holmes at full-back for the injured Brimson, Lui for Welch, and Su’A was promoted from the bench in place of Hess. Fotuaika was called into the seventeen.
An incredible opening try came on seven minutes when Xavier Coates scored an airborne try and he stretched to ground one-handed off a Dane Gagai pass leaping off both feet to score while completing a handstand. Valentine Holmes pushed his kick wide of the far upright but the Maroons were up and running early on.
On seventeen Cody Walker finally found a gap on the Queensland defensive line to step out of one tackle and lunge for the line under a second. Bouncing over the line the half-back got the ball on the ground for a four pointer. Nathan Cleary added the conversion to give the Blue the lead.
Five minutes later the lead was extended as James Tedesco dropped the shoulder and outsmarted Ben Hunt to earn a clear run at the line to dive over. Cleary added the extras for a 12-4 lead.
Three minutes from the interval Josh Addo-Carr made a nonsense of the Maroons defence when ho took a Tedesco pass and stepped his way past two defenders to ground. Cleary added the conversion as the half time hooter warmed up, New South Wales taking an 18-4 lead into the interval.
The second half was less than three minutes old when Damian Cook set up Jack Wighton to push through three defenders and score from five metres out. The Blues were heading out of sight and when Cleary added the extra two New South Wales had a twenty point lead.
It was becoming a massacre on fifty-two when Daniel Tupou was the beneficiary of fast hands across the field to go in on the overlap wide left. Cleary hit the near upright from the touchline but at 28-4 in the lead it was difficult to see any way back for Queensland.
Frustrations boiled over on fifty-six with a rolling brawl between all twenty-six players. Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui were both shown yellow and would sit out the next ten minutes.
Queensland grabbed one back on sixty-two when Daly Cherry-Evans put in a short pass to Josh Papalii for the prop forward to barge over from five metres and ground next to the sticks. Holmes added the conversion to bring up double figures for the Maroons.
An awful defensive mistake, Phillip Sami unable to push the ball dead, allowed Addo-Carr to collect Cody Walker’s grubber and ground by the touchline. Cleary pushed his kick across the face of the uprights, NSW with a 32-10 lead.
Unlike last weeks second half turnaround, the Blues didn’t take their foot off the throttle and when Cleary added a penalty goal with ninety seconds remaining he sealed a comprehensive 34-10 win.
We head to a series decider in Brisbane in a weeks’ time with the Blue now favourites to retain their title and make it three on the bounce. Wayne Bennett’s side will need to regroup and play with a different attitude next week., Brad Fittler will be hoping for more of the same from his side riding high on confidence.
Queensland: Holmes (G), Coates (T), Capewel, Gagai, Sami, Munster, Cherry-Evans, Lui, Friend, Papalii (T), Kaufusi, Su’A, Faasuamaleaui (SB on 56). Subs: Hunt, Collins, Arrow, Fotuaika.
New South Wales: Tedesco (T), Tupou (T), Gutherson, Wighton (T), Addo-Carr (2T), Walker (T), Cleary (5G), Saifiti, Cook, Haas (SB on 56), Crichton, Frizell, Trbojevic. Subs: Finucane, Brown, Yeo, Paulo.
Referee: Gerard Sutton.
Half Time: 4-18.
Full Time: 10-34.
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney.