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After eight years of pain New South Wales are finally in possession of the State of Origin shield once again. There have been plenty of near misses and close calls since 2006 but finally The Blues have had the bounce of the ball go their way and achieved a series win. The look of triumph on Paul Gallen's face after the full-time siren showed just how much pulling on a N.S.W jersey means to him and his teammates. It was a tough affair out on the field on Wednesday night and I think the state can thank their forward pack for getting us the series win.
For the first few years of Queensland' record run N.S.W's forward pack was the ace up their sleeve against an all dominant Queensland backline. While they boasted Slater, Inglis, Hodges, Lockyer, Cronk and Thurston we were considered to have their measure up front. Our backrowers in particular were thought of as the cream of the crop. Despite this we continued to lose and our forward pack was often dominated. The forward packs across the two teams have evened out over the last few years but this time around New South Wales stood up and really took it to the Maroons. Not to say that Queensland's forwards were bad as both games were nail-biters, just that 2014 was the year that N.S.W won the games that they previously would have lost.
After the heroics of Jarryd Hayne in Origin one I think it is important to throw praise on the pack for this games performance. It is no surprise that it was a game dominated by forwards when there was only one try scored. Hayne didn't have the attacking impact he had in game one and Reynolds had a bit of a shocker but that doesn't matter when your defence holds strong for the full eighty minutes. Gallen was non-stop (yet again) and Aaron Woods came into his own this year after a poor series in 2013. He has become the bench mark for props and his quick thinking to let the ball go out on the full after the Hodkinson try stopped any chance of Queensland securing vital field position. Ryan Hoffman also had a belter, continually dragging the defence for well over ten metres. While Sam Thaiday had a good game most of Queensland's forwards couldn't match their New South Wales counterparts.
While Queensland had a disrupted lead up to game two, it must be mentioned that they only had Cooper Cronk missing from their full strength team (and N.S.W were missing the Morris brothers). They also had four (potential) future immortals out there in Slater, Smith, Inglis and Thurston. While Origin fans love nothing more than a decider, I think its fair to say that after eight years New South Wales will take a series win anyway they can so going up two-nil is more than fine. Here's to game three at Suncorp Stadium in three weeks time and lets hope for the first whitewash since 2010.