By Albie Redmore NZ Herald. Queensland have secured their third State of Origin series victory in four years with a game to play after hammering NSW 32-6 in game two at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
With the win Queensland have secured their third State of Origin series victory in four years with the third game yet to play.
The Maroons scored six tries on the night but it was their defence within their own 20 that was the foundation for their victory as NSW had the wealth of possession for the vast majority of the match.
Young fullback Reece Walsh, making just his second Origin appearance, was inspirational for Queensland; superb under the high ball and decisive on attack as he played prominent roles in two of the hosts’ tries.
New South Wales’ hopes of squaring the series suffered an immediate blow as, after just three minutes, classy centre Tom Trbojevic left the field with a game-ending pectoral injury.
Five minutes later, Queensland opened the scoring after a messy fight to claim possession from a Daly Cherry-Evans cross-field bomb was eventually settled by Valentine Holmes who pounced on the loose ball in the NSW in-goal.
Twenty minutes of frenetic, fiery and end-to-end State of Origin football then followed, with barely a break a play as both sides pushed the limits of each other’s match fitness.
It was Queensland who then broke the deadlock, somewhat fortuitously, as Murray Taulagi benefitted from a no-call on a likely forward pass to finish an otherwise silky backline play, set up off the back of a long break by a tireless Cherry-Evans. Holmes converted from in front to hand his side a 10-0 lead at the halftime.
While both of Queensland’s tries had an element of fortune to them, they deserved to lead at the break on the basis of a defensive game that had left NSW looking impotent within the Queensland 20. In particular, the loss of Trbojevic left Damien Cook playing in the centres, thus stifling his potential as an attacking weapon as a playmaker.
Welcomed back to the field by a raucous Suncorp Stadium crowd, Queensland began the second half in sensational fashion, inspired by a 40m break by fullback Reece Walsh. After another smooth set of passes through the backline within the NSW 20, Holmes bagged his second Origin double by the corner flag and converted the try for good measure to extend the Maroons’ lead to 16.
Just seven minutes later, after repelling yet another NSW attack on their line, Queensland scored their fourth try after Taulagi chipped ahead infield off his wing and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow snatched up the loose ball after a fortunate bounce went his way.
After dominating possession for long stretches of play, NSW finally broke their scoring drought and it came via Cook, as he scampered 20 metres after picking up a loose ball in broken play. Stephen Crichton converted the try to give the Blues a glimmer of hope with just over 20 minutes to play.
Walsh quickly darkened that glimmer by beautifully setting up Xavier Coates to score Queensland’s fifth try, a diving, aerial effort in the corner, which Holmes beautifully converted to make it 26-6 to Queensland with just under 15 minutes to play.
All hope was then put to bed by Jeremiah Nani who pounced on a loose ball, dropped by Cook off a cross-field bomb by Cameron Munster, to score Queensland’s sixth try.
The match ended in a somewhat sour fashion as Josh Addo-Carr was sent to the sin bin for throwing a punch at Walsh, while Walsh himself and Jerome Luai were both sent off for giving each other mildly-weighted head butts.
Walsh reacted to his dismissal by clutching at the Queensland crest on his chest and pumping his fist at the home crowd, showing his disdain for the decision and overwhelming joy at clinching victory for his team.
The series will now end in Sydney where Queensland will attempt to become just the eighth team ever to sweep a State of Origin series.
QUEENSLAND 32 (Valentine Holmes 2, Murray Taulagi, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Xavier Coates, Jeremiah Nanai tries; Holmes 4 goals) defeated NSW 6 (Damien Cook try; Stephen Crichton goal) at Suncorp Stadium.
Referee: Ashley Klein. Crowd: 52,433.