Blues down Maroons 16-12 in second Origin contest
New South Wales levelled the 2012 State of Origin rugby league series with a close win over Queensland last night in Sydney.
The Blues beat the Maroons 16-12 at a sell-out ANZ Stadium.
Not even a late charge from Queensland and several errors from both sides could break through what NSW call the “blue wall”.
Queensland had a golden opportunity to put the first points on the board when NSW dropped the ball in their own goal but Queensland prop David Taylor failed to ground it.
Billy Slater, Brent Tate and Paul Gallen showed the toughness of the game – all were limping around in the 24th minute.
NSW fullback Brett Stewart scored the opening try of the match of the back of a Ben Hannet knock-on just minutes later but Todd Carney failed to convert, leaving NSW ahead by 4-0.
Continuous and frustrating errors for Queensland and aggressive defence from NSW meant Queensland couldn’t convert field position into points.
Slater made a big error in the 31st minute when he fumbled the football over the sideline and gave NSW great field position.
Queensland’s only try in the first half came after a disgraceful bit of play when NSW winger Akuila Uate let the ball bounce straight into the hands of Ben Hannet who crossed directly under the post.
Jonathon Thurston kicked the goal and Queensland led 6-4 at halftime.
Immediately after half-time Queensland lock Cory Parker left the ground after injuring his left leg.
Slater battled a niggling knee injury all night but still managed to make some spectacular catches and runs.
Cooper Cronk was sin-binned a minute after halftime for tackling Carney without the ball in the Qld goal line.
Like game one that was the turning point in the game when NSW started their momentum and scored two quick tries.
In a decision sure to spark controversy Hayne lost the ball onto his foot and Josh Morris collected it and ran 50m to score.
That wasn’t the only highlight of Morris’s game.
Stunning defence in the opening part of the game kept Queensland off their usualpoints route up the NSW right wing.
But again Carney missed the kick to have NSW leading 16-6 in the 50th minute.
A comedy of errors from Queensland in the damp conditions had NSW creeping up on the Queensland goal line but poor final tackle options from both sides kept the score line at 16-6.
In the 60th minute after back to back sets of six on the NSW try line Queensland scored in the form of Greg Inglis when Uate again failed to defend his wing.
Jonathon Thurston converted to put Queensland only four points behind with 18 minutes to play.
A stunning catch by Inglis and a 40-20 attempt put Queensland on the cusp of another try but a brilliant move by Michael Jennings forced the ball from Tate on the try line.
The dying minutes had NSW right under the pump but Queensland’s David Taylor lost the ball and NSW sealed the game.
NSW skipper Paul Gallen said NSW have a bit of work to do in the lead up to game three.
“It was extremely tough and extremely fast,” he said.
“We have to improve, there’s no two ways about it.”
Queensland captain Cameron Smith summed up the game: “Always a great effort by the boys,” he said.
“We were outplayed tonight by the Blues.”
Game three and the decider at Suncorp Stadium on 4th July is shaping up as the most anticipated Origin game to date.
NEW SOUTH WALES 16 (Brett Stewart 2, Josh Morris tries; Todd Carney 2 goals) d QUEENSLAND 12 (Ben Hannant, Greg Inglis tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: Tony Archer, Ben Cummins.