Championship SQUADS - 2021 Playoffs Week 1
102 mins ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
It is all set-up now. Queensland came back from 16-6 down to level the 2017 Origin series at Stadium Australia in front of 82,259 fans.
Game three is set up to be a magnificent decider. Johnathan Thurston turned in a maestro performance with a dodgy shoulder, helping lead the Maroons to a tight 18-16 victory to square the ledger going to Suncorp. Now the scene is set - Thurston, Cronk and Smith all possibly off after this series have a chance to break Blues hearts one more time at home in a few weeks.
NSW headed into tonight with a rabid crowd behind them and momentum leading 1-nil in the series, for 60 minutes looked to be headed to a series victory. Enter Queensland and two quick four-pointers to Newcastle fullback Dane Gagai in the final twenty minutes cruelled a Blues side who played in the second half like the series was over.
You can't count out Queensland - ever. The Blues seemed to slack off which allowed the Maroons to work back into the contest. Thurston started to control the game with his kicking game and with ball in hand - the Cowboys halfback started the movement down a right side that was stunted all night to finally break the Blues resistance.
Thurston put the icing on another chapter in the Queensland folklore, tied at 16 with the ball on the tee to win it. The halfback stepped up and curled it in trademark style to silence the majority of the 82,259 fans at Stadium Australia.
For a majority of the contest, it looked like game two would follow the script of the first. New South Wales were ferocious in defense and kept a stellar Queensland spine on the back foot for the first half with thoughts of a series victory coming into view.
New South Wales pushed the accelerator in the first half as a quick movement through the hands made Jarryd Hayne the top of the try-scoring list for the Blues then his wing partner Brett Morris finished off a slicing run from James Maloney. Blues were making 60 metres plus each set but for some questionable last tackle options could have made it a larger margin.
It looked at every ruck that New South Wales were going to burst through the Queensland defense highlighted by Jack Trbojevic's sublime inside ball to James Tedesco who sent Mitchell Pearce across to make it 16-6 and possibly could've been more for a Blues team on top.
In the end it was more a case of the Blues losing than the Maroons winning - but the final score is what matters and it forces a magical third match in three weeks time.
New South Wales 16 - Queensland 18
Venue: Stadium Australia
Halftime Score: New South Wales 16 Queensland 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Jackson
2 points - Dane Gagai
1 points - James Maloney
NEW SOUTH WALES (16)
Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, Mitchell Pearce
Conversions: James Maloney (2/3)
Tries: Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai (2)
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)