Game 2 is finally upon us and after all the talk that surrounded Game 1, it will be great to see this match begin. Majority of the discussions have been around the “fight” involving Paul Gallen and Nate Myles, getting to nauseating levels as everyone expressed their opinions on how they saw the incident. If I had a dollar every time I heard the phrase “not a good look for the game”, I would be able to purchase an entire island in the Bahamas’. It was painful to see the reaction following this incident and the referee’s are partly responsible for this. Had they’ve sent Gallen from the field for 10 minutes; we wouldn’t see the issues that we have now and the NRL wouldn’t felt the need to step in on the issue. Fighting has never been a major part of the game but it has come to be expected every now and then when player’s tensions are high and they are playing such a physical game. Take it a step further, and the broadcaster of SOO would love to see it again as they are able to use it in their pre-game previews and video montages. We all need to move past this and focus on what this spectacle has to offer. NSW were winners in Game 1 and they are heading up to Suncorp Stadium with the hope that they can close the series out within two games. The Maroons were certainly off their game in the first encounter and will be out to stop the Blues taking control and possibly winning the series. Heading up to Suncorp Stadium to battle the Maroons has to be one of the toughest road trips to make in rugby league and the spectators will not be afraid to express their opinion of the Blues. However a lot has changes since Game 1 and we have seen a few cracks begin to appear in both sides. Off-field issues have been a major problem, as have injuries but both coaches have named a side that they think will be able to beat the opposition. There is a reason people love Origin football and this is one of them. A lot is on the line here for both sides and we are going to see a thrilling contest. Let’s take a closer look at the game to see if we can profit from it and enjoy it just that little bit more.
1. Billy Slater 2. Darius Boyd 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Brent Tate 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Matt Scott 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Nate Myles 11. Chris McQueen 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Daley Cherry-Evans 15. Matt Gillett 16. Ben Te’o 17. Josh Papalii
Compared to the Blues, the preparation heading into this game has been a lot more subdued for the Queenslanders. They prefer it that way and its as if Des Hasler is at the helm and they want to “fly under the radar” in a two horse race. That all came to a head last week when news surfaced that their coach, Mal Meniga, was asked to leave a pub. The whole incident was a “storm in a teacup” and only really became news as the NSW media to jumped on the story following everything the Blues had been through. Majority of the focus should be on the team as they have fair bit of their pride battered, following the loss in Game 1. They were off that night and the relentless pressure that the Blues heaped upon them in the first half appeared to take its toll later on in the match and they couldn’t really get anything going. When they did score, it was on the back of penalties but more importantly, it was when Greg Inglis got the ball. They have one of the best players in the game in Inglis and they barely used him. He attracts more than one defender to him and this leaves other players open in scoring opportunities. Expect a lot more ball to head his way early on in the contest. Defence wasn’t a major issue for the Maroons, but they have opted to go for more impact form their bench. Daley Cherry-Evans will fill the utility role, while Canberra dynamo Josh Papalii, has been promoted from 18th man. Ashley Harrison and Dave Shillington are the players to miss out; with Queensland now going against their traditional “pick and stick” mantra. It will give them a greater chance of competing with the Blues in this area, but just how their talents are utilised, remains to be seen. This is important more so for DCE and Meniga needs to find a way to slot him in during the game. He will probably come on as a third half late in the game and provide a link between Thurston and Cronk.
Best Chance = Greg Inglis @ $8 – There will be a lot more ball heading the way of this man and expect him to make the most of this chance he is given. Also keep Darius Boyd ($11) in mind, as he will be on the outside of Inglis and he may be the beneficiary of Inglis’ strength.
Outsider = Cooper Cronk @ $21 – Cronk is at sizable odds considering how often he touches the ball. You would expect the Queenslanders to score their points from a sweeping movement but Cronk takes the ball to the line very well and the decoy runners may take attention away from the man with the ball.
New South Wales
1. Josh Dugan 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Morris 5. Brett Morris 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Paul Gallen (c) 9. Robbie Farrah 10. Aaron Woods 11. Luke Lewis 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Greg Bird Interchange: 14. Anthony Watmough 15. Trent Merrin 16. Andrew Fifita 17. Josh Reynolds
Off-field issues have had a major impact on the Blues side heading into this game. Coach Laurie Daley must be getting grey hairs by the minute with some of the trouble (injuries included) that has impacted on the selection of this team. First there was the injury to Jarryd Hayne that was suffered only 2 days after Game 1. He has suffered a tear in his hamstring and although not too serve, it has ruled him out of selection in this game. There were plenty of candidates that were putting their hand up for selection but Daley and his selectors have chosen to give Josh Dugan a shot at redemption. It was only a month earlier that his career was in limbo after being sacked by the Raiders for a series of off-field issues. Fast-forward to this game and since then, Dugan was given a lifeline by the Dragons and has been making the most of his opportunity. Some of the things that he has done on the field in recent weeks have single-handedly won games for his side. The Blues will not lose any impact by naming him and his unpredictability is sure to worry Queensland. Had Dugan not been named, then the whole Blake Ferguson saga might not have happened. Without going into too many details, Ferguson has been charged with indecent assault and will be not only be out of this game, but all forms of football until his court hearing. This opened up a vacant spot on the wing and Daley has given a chance to Nathan Merritt to finally prove himself in this arena. It has been a long time coming for him and he will want to make the most of his opportunities. Although he does deserve selection, it is a little surprising to see him named given the fact that they were looking for a right winger to bring in and Merritt plays majority of his football on the left. In between all of this, James Tamou ruled himself out of selection when he was caught for drink driving at a very high range. Irresponsible is one word that comes to mind, but like Ferguson, it can also be classified as stupid. Aaron Woods has been called in to replace Tamou, and he will be making his debut along with Merritt. Woods is only 22, but has proven to the competition that he has what it takes to be a premier player in this competition. He has put his hand up each week for a fledging Tigers team and he just has to play like he has been and to the same level that got him selected in the first instance. Looking back on Game 1, the Blues targeted Thurston well in defence and Luke Lewis relished every opportunity he had to run the ball in his direction. The forward play of the Blues was very strong and set up the victory for them. Their halves need to improve slightly on their kicking game and give their chasers a better opportunity of getting down the field and limiting the metres made on the return by the QLD back three. They also need to limit their penalties. The referee’s are already reluctant to give them in the first place so they should not given them extra reasoning to do so. This only pushes the Maroon’s down the field and gives them an extra opportunity at attacking their line.
Best Chance = Michael Jennings @ $13 – Jennings used his speed to the advantage of the Blues in Game 1 where he scored the second try. Expect the same from him again and Hodges will have his work cut out for him trying to limit his impact in this game.
Outsider = Luke Lewis @ $26 – Lewis turned in a vey dominating display in Game 1 and was dangerous every time he ran the ball. The Queenslanders have moved Chris McQueen to the starting side to defend against Lewis but his class may make him a handful to stop close to the line.
TAB Sportsbet = QLD $1.53 NSW $2.55
Centrebet = QLD $1.50 NSW $2.65
Sportsbet = QLD $1.52 NSW $2.55
Betfair = QLD $1.56 NSW $2.76
First Try Scorer/Margin Double = Just like in Game 1, it would be very surprising to see the winning margin for either side get out to a 13+ margin. So if you’re having a FTS bet, you should also consider coupling it together with a 1-12 margin for either side.
Winning margin = If you want a little more value out of your margin bet, then contemplate being a little more specific on the actual margin. The game will fall between 1-12 points, but you can also narrow down that between 1-6 (both sides @ $5) and 7-12 (both sides @ $5.50).
Halftime/Fulltime Double = In an 80minute game, it would be difficult to see one team dominating the entire contest. It could even get to the point where both sides are locked up at halftime. Seriously consider taking either Draw/NSW ($13) or Draw/QLD ($13) depending on which way you think this game will go.
Tri Bet = Still can’t make up your mind but believe that it will be a tight contest? Then the option of “Either Team Under 6.5 points” @ $2.70 is a good way to go. Take it as fact, this will again be a close contest and winning by more than a converted try would be fairly surprising to see.
Man of the Match = It’s an easy formula! The MOM will always be selected from the winning side. In Game 1, it was Luke Lewis who was rewarded for his efforts and he is again a chance ($17) if the Blues are victorious. Also consider Bird ($11) and Farrah ($9) for the Blues as they were great in Game 1 and can easily do the job here. Given I am leaning towards the Maroons winning the game, I am going to focus more on their players. The involvement of Inglis ($9) should be increased and he immediately comes into calculations. You also have to strongly consider Cronk($8), Thurston ($6.50) and Smith($7.50) as they are always going to get their hands on the ball and be involved in attacking movements.
Best selection = NSW – Farrah ($9) QLD – Inglis ($9)
The stage is set for the Blues to head up to Suncorp Stadium and steal the series away from the Maroons. If it was only that easy! It is going to be very difficult for the Blues to win in this match and there are a number of reasons why I believe the Queenslanders will prevail. They will have learnt from their mistakes in Game 1. They have too many players in their team that are superstars and they would’ve been disappointed with their efforts in the first game. They know what they need to do and I would expect to see a completely different performance from them here. Once they did find their groove in Game 1, they kept the Blues scoreless and looked good with the ball. They should be able to pick up from that level in the beginning of this one. It will not be easy for them though and one area they may struggle is the forward’s. This is a real strength of the Blues and they will work to that in every possible way. No need to recommend a margin, you are all aware of my thoughts in and around this contest.