NRL State of Origin Game 2 – QLD v NSW – 2015 Preview
NRL State of Origin Game 2 – NSW v QLD
Melbourne – MCG
QLD won a dour game 1 in Sydney, 3 of the last 4 games have now been decided by just 1, 2 and 4 points. Game 2 moves to Melbourne to be played on the big open spaces of the MCG with little likely home crowd support or influence for either side. The weather forecast is for light showers across Tuesday and Wednesday.
Key team changes, NSW have Gallen and B Morris returning while QLD lose Cronk but have a quality back up in Cherry-Evans. Wear and tear injuries are always going to be an issue across both team lists, but notably Farah (shoulder) and Slater (shoulder).
QLD dominated the play through game 1 with 61% field position and 56% of possession yet didn’t convert this to any significant scoreboard advantage needing a late field goal to win. Both sides murdered numerous scoring opportunities in a game more scrappy than entertaining, again typical of recent years with NSW’s focus on defending well, turning the game into a physical arm wrestle and shutting down QLD’s edge attack options as much as possible.
I think the signs have been there across the last 12 months again obvious in game 1 that the wheel is turning on this great QLD side, with age certainly catching up with them in key areas. Scott is all but left alone up font now, they lack ball play and mobility across their back row and drop a level on rotation to their bench. In my opinion Hodges is now long past his best on their right and has played on a year too long, any touch of depth, speed and ball movement down his edge has him in serious trouble defending – and this should be a significant focus for NSW. On their left Inglis is certainly due and has been a shadow of his best for some months, at the back Slater is clearly also now some risk. Given all of the ball and field position that QLD had in game 1 their go forward, execution and attack penetration was disappointing, but even more noticeable how much they were on the back foot in defence.
NSW were also well short of their best in game 1, and desperately miss the stand out class and skill of Hayne. Farah is now carrying a significant injury and they don’t have a specialist for his role in back up, Hodkinson well out of form and but for credible alternatives luck to have been retained and their bench lacks any X factor or ability to impact or change the game up. Personally I would have gone with Austin off the bench, he plays straight, he creates room and he does things that break the line and can break a game wide open, the sort of things NSW need to ram home any earnt advantage.
As is normally the case with most series I expect both teams to be a bit better than game 1. QLD will be looking for more fluency with the attack combinations, especially down their potent left edge that feeds Inglis and Boyd. Although playing with less ball and field position I though NSW dominated through the middle, yet didn’t capatilise on this with poor combinations in the halves and poor linking to either edge. I think this remains a key advantage but they have to turn opportunity into points and scoreboard points. Jennings and Josh Morris need to see more early ball with some room, and Hodges must be targeted. The more up tempo that NSW can play the speed of the game the more it will be to their advantage, as it was in patches in game 1.
The wide open spaces and likely harder track of the MCG could well see things open up a bit more (lets hope so). I think NSW has more upside, they’ve advantage in the middle and their attack combinations and polish can certainly improve, I think they can win, had they some more upside and attacking impact off their bench I would be even more confident.
I think the +4.5 start in NSW’s favour is a nice interest and how I will be playing the game.
Tip – NSW by 6
Bet – NSW +4.5 $1.80
First Try Scorer – NSW Jennings $11 and B Morris $11
Man of the Match – Mitchell Pearce $9
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