New South Wales have sent the 2022 series to a decider after their 44-12 win against Queensland on Sunday night at Perth Stadium.
The Blues turned up and put on a second half blitz in their romp in the west with Nathan Cleary having a personal tally of 24 points to lead the side slongside starring performances from Panthers team mate Jarome Luai and Bulldog Matt Burton.
After a downbeat game one, the Blues attack was on fire tonight in Perth. The Blues dominated possession and the points flowed in the second half with five tries to continue their winning streak in the west.
Nathan Cleary was perfect from the boot tonight and got the scoring going with a penalty goal in the 10th minute. The Panthers halfback put in a deft kick for Matt Burton which put the Blues back ahead at 8-6.
Queensland were the first over the tryline tonight when Felise Kaufusi strode through some flimsy defence to make it 6-2 then Kalyn Ponga helped set up Cameron Munster down the left side which gave them the lead for the second and final time for the night.
Blues were handed a lifeline late in the first half when Kaufusi was binned for repeated infringements. That gave the Blues backline enough space to send Panthers flyer Brian To'o across the tryline for a 14-12 half-time lead.
The second half was one sided and the Blues were in fine fettle. Daniel Tupou got the scoring underway when Cleary's cut-out pass gave the Roosters winger ample room to stroll over and stretch the advantage to eight.
Cleary was the provider for much of the contest but he had a Man of the Match performance to keep the Blues in the series. He scored two quick back-to-back tries which broke the game wide open and sent us to a decider.
His Panthers team mate Jarome Luai was another superb contributer and got over the line himself. He stepped outside a tackle and sliced through the line to plant the ball down and keep the Blues machine humming.
The other four pointer was for Angus Crichton who was given a saloon passage to the line when he rolled through the gap and gave us the final scoreline of 44-12. Blues coach Brad Fittler vindicated for his changes and redemption for the team that lost in Game 1.
Now for Queensland, it is back to the drawing board. The decider is at their home ground, Suncorp Stadium, which will be rocking for the game. Coach Billy Slater might have some tweaks to his team but knows the side can get the job done back at home.