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State of Origin Game 2 Preview – New South Wales Blues

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The New South Wales Blues are fresh off performing a one-sided smash-up derby in Game 1, and now shift their attention to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium as they attempt a decisive series win on Queensland soil.

While it was hardly ideal for the Blues to play the first two games of the series in Queensland, they took to Townsville’s hostile environment better than the home side. What followed was 80 minutes of doing whatever they pleased on the way to a 50-6 drubbing.

They had the better of the contest in every way imaginable. While Brisbane has never been a happy hunting ground for the Blues, their statistical dominance across the park could well account for that. In total, Queensland has won 37 out of 57 games at Lang Park, and yet, that is about the only negative you can find for New South Wales.

While the Blues defence was rock solid, it’s undoubtedly the attack that has Queensland on the back foot from the get-go. It was always a dangerous-looking attack coming into the game, and it proved to be that way, although maybe not quite in the way expected.

Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, who have led the Penrith Panthers to the top of the table, weren’t the best players on the field, although still played good games. That honour fell to the two centres, both playing as fullbacks at NRL level in Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell.

Queensland simply had no answers for them out wide, and maybe it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise on a dry track. With the Blues spreading the ball wide early, their centres had an absolute field day against the brittle defence of the Maroons, and it backs up what we have seen at NRL level from the duo.

Mitchell has six tries, ten try assists, six line breaks, 45 tackle busts, 12 offloads and 136 metres per game in ten appearances, while Trbojevic has 11 tries, 15 try assists, 13 line breaks, 40 tackle busts, and 205 metres per game in eight appearances. When you combine the positive influence of those two players, alongside James Tedesco and the halves pairing, it means the Blues have attacking weapons quite literally all over the park.

Of course, that positive attack wouldn’t be possible unless the territory and possession battle was being won, and it was with absolute ease. Game 1 saw the Blues outrun their opponents by almost 600 metres, but that only came off eight extra runs throughout the contest. Where the difference was made was in post-contact metres, the Blues winning that battle 524 to 400, and their ability to break the Maroons line, a battle they won a staggering ten to one.

That came about as a result of the Maroons constantly being on the back foot in defence. With the Blues making fewer errors and having three of their back five run for over 200 metres, and the other two for over 100, it’s clear to see just how simple the game plan was for Brad Fittler’s side.

The only change is the loss of Jake Trbojevic, but having only played 29 minutes in Game 1, it’s hard to gauge whether he will be a loss at all. Junior Paulo comes into the starting side, but the bench domination in Game 1 was sparked by the non-stop Payne Haas, who made 132 metres from 13 runs.

It makes it difficult to suggest the loss of Trbojevic will hurt the Blues, and realistically, the only factor which may slow them down is Suncorp Stadium. They enter Game 2 as heavy favourites, and with good reason.


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