NRL 2018 | State Of Origin Game 2 | Reading The Play

NRL 2018 | State Of Origin Game 2 | Reading The Play

NRL 2018 | State Of Origin Game 2

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Game Preview


Homebush, Sydney

Sunday June 24

NSW: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Tom Trbojevic, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 James Roberts, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 David Klemmer, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Boyd Cordner (c), 12 Tyson Frizell, 13 Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14 Paul Vaughan, 15 Jake Trbojevic, 16 Angus Crichton, 17 Tyrone Peachey.

QLD: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Valentine Holmes, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Will Chambers, 5 Dane Gagai, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ben Hunt, 8 Dylan Napa, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Jarrod Wallace, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Felise Kaufusi, 13 Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14 Kalyn Ponga, 15 Josh Papalii, 16 Coen Hess, 17 Jai Arrow.


NSW have won 5 of the last 9 at Homebush with the last 5 games at the ground all being decided by six points or less – including a 16-18 loss last year

Last 9 games at Homebush have all resulted in winning margins of 1-12

Last 8 games at Homebush neither team has scored more than 20 pts

Last 9 games at Homebush have not seen a total points score breach 34 pts

The Homebush venue is clearly a key factor here. While the game time will be approx. 30 minutes earlier than a normal mid week Sydney game by 8 pm we will still see the onset of winter evening dew and a slightly soft and at times slippery surface – and game after game year after year this then contributes a tight low scoring game. Add to this the flavour that one team (NSW) is trying to protect a series lead and close out the series (and in uncharted waters with so many debutantes) while the other is desperate to aim up, win and square things into a decider everything contributes to a tight close contest.

Changes? Slater comes in for QLD, a massive in across all facets of their game. Ponga comes on to the QLD bench, for mine a no brainer and he should have played in game 1. NSW have one forced change with Prior coming in for the injured Campbell-Gillard. Walters has decided to stick with his original squad believing that they have the necessary improvement in them to aim up. For mine he has to give far more game time to Papalii, Hess and Ponga once they get past the first opening 18 to 20 minutes, as QLD need some ball play, off load & second phase play and the unique skills of young Ponga to break things open and create points as they are going to need at least 3 tries to be victor here.

NSW won Game 1 with a 24-14 scoreline. Maloney missed two conversions and NSW had two late tries disallowed (correctly) while QLD scored off an intercept – if would be fair to argue the winning scoreline should well have been wider and more dominant. But as they so often have been when up against it QLD were again like the nagging dog who just wouldn’t go away and off what they themselves would state was a poor offering, they can well turn things around here.

QLD had a poor prep, had key players sit most of the first 7 days out (notably Slater and Hunt), then lost Slater, had confusion as to his replacement, reshuffled with Morgan moving back to #1, had the selectors over rule the coach and insist that Milford play off the bench then all but lost Gagai with an unsettling Captains run. Monty Python would have been proud of such a script of calamity. Game 2 will be different, from Wednesday onward they will ensure they have everyone training and a focused attitude to get this job done. In Game 1 they got beat in multiple areas, defensively they missed 53 tackles, offered up 7 incomplete sets and 9 errors and found just the 1 line break in 80 minutes. They scored only 2 tries, one off an intercept – even though it was Origin its any wonder they were not flogged by 20 or more.

NSW had a faultless prep and looked to do much of what we expected. With 11 new fresh faces Fittler has been able to point them in his direction, no dickheads and no distractions. With 5 line breaks it was evident they were trying to play attack and open things up, they still looked well short on off loads and second phase play and I thought there looked plenty of opportunity back through the middle and in behind the play the ball for a lot more joy, Tedesco found room and some positive runs here but such is the speed of Origin sometimes its much easier to play the next play than necessarily play some of what’s in the play book. The major area that needs fine turning is the kicking game set up and execution, especially when coming out of their own end, it was very ordinary in the first half and cost them plenty of territory.

I expect much more from QLD here. A better prep, a must win game, a ground and surface that will suit a tight arm wrestle game style. Slater brings class and attack incision, he will also make a big difference to the defensive organisation and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ponga used as a loose forward to create some extra man play or play off the likes of Munster and or Papalii. If QLD play Slater and Ponga on the park together at any stage of the game then they are just so much stronger than anything we saw in game 1 – and they are going to need at least 3 tries to be in the frame here. McCullough needs a touch more spark, Hunt needs to step up (and he should be much freer in his action by now). I’d suggest they also need to hit their right edge and pepper Maloney and Mitchell many more times more than they did first up. Most importantly that defensive intensity and execution has to improve dramatically, anything like 53 missed tackles here and they’ll just be inviting NSW to a major points decision.

Cook, Cleary, Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic through the middle should be one of the major paths for NSW, also on the back of some forward yardage some clean ball to either edge for Roberts or Mitchell. They should again have the attacking advantage here, they just need to set it properly more often and execute. Easier said than done. The wheel has turned, NSW sit in the box seat and go to their home ground for what could be a series deciding game. They are very very warm favs for this, $1.36 – in the history of Origin the 5 times that they have started under $1.50 they have won. I think the markets pretty much have this right, I expect NSW win but I do think this will be a very typical Homebush game and a close margin.

Tip: NSW

Best Bet Option: NSW to win 1-12 $2.80

Man Of The Match: Nathan Cleary $9

Exotic Play: Valentine Holmes any time try scorer + NSW to Win $4.20

The “I just want to back QLD” bet option:  QLD +9.5 $1.85

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