State of Origin: Game II preview
Just to prove I wasn’t too far off the mark tipping Tedesco for man of the match in Game 1 at 15.00, he has been shortened into 7.00 with some bookies for Game 2 and is the outright favourite. I know getting close does not get paid, but it’s worth noting in this instance as I’m making a similar play in the man of the match market for Game 2.
Billy Slater’s comeback to the Origin arena is a big deal! The champion number 1 has been on fire since his return and on my player ratings, he is actually performing as well as another player in this game at the moment. Due to his combinations with Smith, Cronk and Thurston, I expect him to slot into the Queensland backline seamlessly, and his positional play is as good as we have ever seen. Alongside Thurston and Smith for Queensland and Pearce, Fifita and Tedesco for NSW, Slater should be one of the standout chances with the bookies to be best on ground here… but he’s not. Sportsbet have him at 13.00 and I think that is good value.
Bet: 0.5 units on Billy Slater to be man of the match
I really like the changes that have been made to the Queensland squad. As I said in my preview to Game 1, I thought Guerra and Myles’ club form did not warrant them being selected, and their replacement here by Hess and Wallace is a good move. Thaiday was due to retire from Queensland last year and the Maroons won’t lose anything by replacing him with Glasby.
Although I also agree O’Neil had to be dropped, the only concern I do have is that the Queensland outside backs are all playing out of position. Holmes and Boyd are both fullbacks and although I agree Coach Walters had to find a space for them, there is a risk that NSW can capitalise on this factor by forcing these players to make unfamiliar defensive decisions.
As for NSW, there’s little wonder why they haven’t changed anything and if they can replicate what they did last game, they will be hard to beat. Fifita, Klemmer and Woods are just too much to handle up the middle and with guys like Hayne, Tedesco and Dugan, NSW have the strike-power out wide to match them.
But despite NSW being favoured to win this, I certainly don’t think they have no weaknesses, and I really do think Queensland’s lineup is much much stronger than their Game 1 team. This is leading the bookies to underestimate how close this will be. Game 1 was a blow out in the end, but for most of the match the two teams were neck and neck. NSW completed a few more sets than Queensland and made some inroads up the middle… but I think the Queensland injection of youth will help ensure the Maroons’ ruck defence is more dynamic for this match.
I have Queensland a little bit ahead on player ratings and with their spine now being the same one that’s led them to so many series wins over the last decade, I actually don’t know if the home ground advantage will be enough for the Blues here.
I can barely split them and if I had to choose, I would say Queensland by a field goal in golden point.
Prediction: Queensland to win by 1.
Bet: 1 unit on Queensland +3.5 ($1.95 Sportsbet)
Bet: 0.5 units on the draw ($19.00 Bet365)
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The big positional calls that Coach Walters has made is the decision to play Gagai on the wing and Boyd in the centres. While it’s yet to be seen if this is how they will actually shape up – Queensland are known to play mind games – I think that this shift has not been fully factored in by the bookies when pricing up try scoring match ups. So look for value in these areas.
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