Match Preview: State of Origin Game Two

Maroons v Blues | Sunday, 26 July 2022

We head into Game Two with the Maroons just 80 minutes away from Origin glory after a hard-fought win in the series opener.

With the series on line, Blues coach Brad Fittler has rung in the changes as his side looks to keep the series alive at Optus Stadium.

Fittler has called in some familiar faces but also taken a gamble with debutants Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai. 

Many have labelled the changes an overreaction, and there is clearly some doubt on the impact it will have on a group which only lost by a converted try in game one.

Burton and Talakai are match-winners when at their best, but are they ready for the pressure cooker of Origin? It’s a very different stage to regular club footy and they’ll need to fit in seamlessly to have an impact.

The difference between club footy and Origin couldn’t have been more evident in a high-quality Game One. 

Thriving under pressure, the Maroons were meticulous, disciplined and patient as they sapped the Blues of precious time with the ball.

Unsurprisingly the Maroons’ win had the fingerprints of debut coach Billy Slater all over it. He’s clearly instilled a belief and buy-in to a well thought-out game plan.

Such is the revered stature of Slater in the Origin furnace, it was no surprise to see the Maroons follow his instructions to the letter.

It paid dividends as the Maroons build a healthy early

lead and defied the Blues’ mini comeback in the latter stages.

The Maroons had workhorses across the park, led by the brilliance of man-of-the-match Cameron Munster,

Valentine Holmes, skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and debutants Pat Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins.

Perhaps most importantly, they denied Blues playmaker Nathan Cleary of any space to utilise his kicking game. 

And they did it all in the face of a boisterous, sold-out Blues’ home crowd.

Next stop, Perth.

The Blues will take some confidence in the fact they dominated Queensland 38-6 at the only match played at this venue back in 2019.

The Blues have made changes to nullify the Maroons game one dominance around the ruck, with Jake Trbojevic and Angus Crichton brought into the side.

Burton will also add another kicking option which may cause headaches should the Maroons choose to again pinpoint their focus on Cleary.

For the Maroons, injured pair Xavier Coates and Rueben Cotter (another star debutant of game one) will watch from the sidelines, however the in-form Cowboys flyer Murray Taulagi and tough nut Jai Arrow are able replacements.

There’s plenty to add up when assessing which side is the best betting proposition, but it’s hard to back against the Maroons off what we saw in game one.

It’s hard to understand why they are outsiders in the market.

Slater won’t allow complacency to creep in, and I feel the Maroons had something more to give if required in their series opening victory.

Suggested bets: 2u Maroons win at $2.15, 1u first try scorer Val Holmes at $15, 1u first try Selwyn Cobbo at $12