Over 83,000 fans were on hand at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney to witness a dramatic second game in the State of Origin this morning, as New South Wales claimed an unforgettable series levelling victory…
In a tense and brutal opening quarter, it was Queensland who went closest first but Dave Taylor inexplicably knocked on over the try line after a Brett Stewart fumble after 13 minutes.
But it was NSW who broke the deadlock on 25 minutes as the video referee ruled that Brett Stewart forced his way over and grounded the ball despite the best efforts of Jonathan Thurston to get under him.
It looked like being the only score of the half, but NSW’s Akuila Uate failed to deal with a high kick, and all the Blues hard work in the first half was undone as Ben Hannant grounded the ball under the posts to give QLD a 4-6 lead on the stroke of half time.
As it always seems the case with Origin games, all of NSW’s domination hasn’t reaped the rewards it would usually get in any other game, despite the Maroons heading back to the changing rooms looking visibly battered – Brent Tate, Billy Slater and Justin Hodges all carrying knocks.
The second half didn’t start much better for the Maroons as Corey Parker was stretchered off after 45 seconds with a deep open gash on his shin, and then Cooper Cronk was sin binned for holding back Todd Carney to prevent a surefire try. Carney slotted over the resultant penalty to bring the Blues level at 6-6.
From the resulting kick off Todd Carney then broke the Maroons line on tackle 2 and put Brett Stewart in under the posts for a great long range NSW try. With the Blues now firmly in the ascendancy, Josh Morris reacted quicker than any of the shell-shocked Maroons to a loose ball and extended the NSW lead to 16-6.
It took 15 minutes, but Queensland gradually faught their way back into the game and the Blues lead was cut to just 4 points as Greg Inglis was on hand to support Darious Boyd’s cross-field kick take, and Thurston slotted the conversion perfectly from the touchline.
Queensland continued to press and had all the possession in the remaining quarter, but the New South Wales defence was simply outstyanding, defending their line like the series depended on it. Robbie Farah had made well over 70 tackles. Carney and Bird left everything they had on the pitch, and the Blues held on for a memorable series-levelling victory.
The Origin juggernaught now rumbles on to Brisbane on Wednesday July 4th for one of the biggest games in Origin history as New South Wales attempt to end Queensland’s 7 year dominance, in their own back yard. I suggest you clear your diary…
NEW SOUTH WALES: Brett Stewart (Manly); Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta), Michael Jennings (Penrith), Josh Morris (Canterbury), Akuila Uate (Newcastle); Todd Carney (Cronulla), Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters); Paul Gallen (capt, Cronulla), Greg Bird (Gold Coast), Glenn Stewart (Manly), James Tamou (North Queensland), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Tim Grant (Penrith).
Tries: B.Stewart (25, 43), Morris (47)
Conversions: Carney (2/4)
QUEENSLAND: Billy Slater (Melbourne); Darius Boyd (Newcastle), Greg Inglis (South Sydney), Justin Hodges (Brisbane), Brent Tate (North Queensland); Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland), Cooper Cronk (Melbourne); Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast), David Taylor (South Sydney). Nate Myles (Gold Coast), Petero Civoniceva (Brisbane), Cameron Smith (capt, Melbourne), Matthew Scott (North Queensland).
Tries: Hannant (39), Inglis (61)
Conversions: Thurston (2/2)
Love Rugby League man of the match: Todd Carney (NSW)
Referees: Ben Cummins/Tony Archer