With the series on the line, Game 2 heads down to Sydney as the Blues try to stop Queensland from winning a 9 in a row. Not too many people thought that the Blues would be in this situation, but after a gutsy win in Game 1, they are presented with their best chance in a long time. Usually, the controversy is reserved for the New South Welshman, but with a mounting injury toll and a question marks hanging over their heads after their first performance, the Maroons now have their backs against the wall. In some ways, this is when they are at their best and with the team that they posses, it will be hard to keep them down for too long. Nevertheless, all of a sudden they do not appear to be as dominant as they once were and the Blues are the team plenty of momentum. Origin football always presents an exciting situation and it will be sensational to see if the Blues can go on with the job or if the Maroons are able to square the ledger.
New South Wales
1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Dugan 5. William Hopoate 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Paul Gallen (c) 9. Robbie Farrah 10. Aaron Woods 11. Beau Scott 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Greg Bird Interchange: 14. James Tamou 15. Anthony Watmough 16. Luke Lewis 17. Trent Merrin
The Blues have not had everything their own way, with several injuries causing a reshuffle in their backline. Polar opposites in Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate come into the team and will have their work cut out trying to match the contribution of the Morris boys on the right side. Both players will bring a flair with them in attack, but that will mean little if their defense isn’t strong. They are boosted by the return of Greg Bird at lock, which pushes Paul Gallen to the front row and James Tamou back to the bench. Having 4 forwards on the bench plays well into their hands as they try to keep the middle as tight as possible. It was a controlled performance from their halves and they will again need to be at their best to overcome the might of the Maroons pack. The forwards were great in their production in Game 1, complimented well by the contribution of bench players. That has to happen again to set up a strong platform for the outside backs, especially Jarryd Hayne. He was dynamic in Game 1 and the Maroons are going to have a difficult time trying to halt his involvement.
Best Chance = Jarryd Hayne – Hayne was dynamic in Game 1, scoring one try and setting another one up. His form this season has been electrifying and the Blues will try to get him involved as much as possible. Better still, he can score from any point on the field and will be one threat that the Maroons will try to nullify.
1. Billy Slater 2. Darius Boyd 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Brent Tate 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Daley Cherry-Evans 8. Matt Scott 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Nate Myles 11. Chris McQueen 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Matt Gillett Interchange: 14. Jacob Lillyman 15. Ben Te’o 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Dave Taylor 18. Ben Hunt
The Maroons had several question marks lingering, mainly related to the fitness of key players. It appears as though Greg Inglis and Billy Slater will both take the field in this match, with Slater not playing since Game 1. Inglis’ injury appeared as though it could be long term, but he has been able to recover. The biggest concern circles around DCE and his knee injury. Queensland have several options, but the most likely one is that Broncos halfback Ben Hunt will take his place in the starting team. In the forwards, Matt Gillett moves to lock, as Corey Park has been ruled out with injury, while Josh Papalii has suffered the same fate. Dave Taylor and Jacob Lillyman will take his place, along with DCE’s on the interchange. Sam Thaiday features in the starting team at second row to cover Gillett’s move to lock. Despite all of the setbacks, this is still a capable Maroons team that will still be dangerous. As mentioned earlier, this is a situation that they thrive in and they will not be short on motivation after Game 1.
Best Chance = Darius Boyd – He scored the only two tries for the Maroons in Game 1, with one of those the first in the match. He is again fancied to get over the line first, with the Maroons looking very dangerous with a sweeping movement to the left. Playing outside Inglis only enhances his chances further.
TAB Sportsbet = NSW $1.60 QLD $2.40
Centrebet = NSW $1.65 QLD $2.30
Sportsbet = NSW $1.65 QLD $2.30
Betfair = NSW $1.68 QLD $2.46
Man of the Match = After Game 1, there is a better idea of which players are going to have the greatest influence on the result if their team is to win. If the Blues are successful, Jarryd Hayne ($5.50) is the standout selection and after capturing MOM honors in Game 1, he is again a strong favorite. Supporting him is 5/8 Josh Reynolds ($11) and hooker Robbie Farrah ($6.50), with Farrah likely to have another strong match in the middle. For the Maroons, Billy Slater ($15) was one of their best in the first match, but will be limited by his injury. The other chances for them are JT ($7.50), Cameron Smith ($9) and a smokey chance of Nate Myles ($26), who will aim to lead from the front in both attack and defense.
The Blues came up with the goods in Game 1 and there is no reason why they cannot go on and win the series here. Queensland will be defiant and as mentioned earlier, they are always going to be dangerous with the players they have at their disposal. However the Blues are faced with their best chance in recent seasons and they need to make the most of it. If they cannot win here, it appears as though they will not be able to repeat their result from the previous match, in Game 3. With the troubles that the Queenslanders have faced, this is playing nicely into the hands of the Blues. The Maroons are not at full strength and have several players that are playing at less than 100%. Given this and the performance we saw from NSW in the first match, I believe that the series will be won in this match. Traditionally, Origin is a tightly contested contest, but there is plenty to suggest that the Blues are going to be able to win this one by a surprising 13+ margin. For mine, the inclusion of Ben Hunt is puzzling, as his form at club level has been inconsistent. Charged with leading this team around appears to be a task that is beyond his experience, despite the opinion that he is in career best form. If the Maroons are going to struggle to score points, then the Blues are going to be able to run up a tally of points as confidence and belief thrives within this squad.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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