state of origin game 2

State of Origin Game 2 preview from NRL pro punter Steve Green… including predicted score and suggested bet!

Enough ink has been spilt on how much of a bloodbath Game 1 was and although I thought NSW deserved to be favourites, I had no idea how much the Blues would dominate in attack.

While there are a lot of stats that tell the story, the two that stand out to me are line breaks and average set distance. NSW made an amazing ten line breaks to the Queenslanders’ one! Related to this, the average set distance for NSW was 46 metres, whereas for Queensland it was 31.5 metres.

You rarely see such a difference in an NRL game, let along an Origin.

Those numbers show the mountain Queensland must climb if they want to be competitive in Game 2.

Slowing NSW momentum

The 2021 season is all about momentum and off the back of Tom T, Latrell, To’o, Tedesco and Addo-Carr, NSW were always able to build momentum early in their sets. In contrast, the likes of Feldt and Coates were often manhandled when they tried to get it out of their red zone. So the number 1 challenge for Coach Green is to devise a strategy to be more competitive in the momentum stakes.

The main thing Queensland need to do is work harder in defence, by winning the initial contact and slowing down the ruck. NSW had five ruck infringements to Queensland’s one… so Queensland did not do enough on the ground to push their luck and try to slow the Blues. Whereas the Blues were happy to concede a few six-agains if it meant they could dominate the speed of Queensland’s ruck.

This was a huge tactical error from Queensland and something I am sure they will not looking to repeat for Game 2.

Toughening up

While NSW fans would have loved the spectacle of Game 1, as a traditionalist I thought it was not exactly the toughest Origin I have seen. Queensland were torn apart in the middle because after the 11th minute mark they were missing Papalii, Lindsay Collins and Welch from their 2020 upset series win.

While Collins is still out, Papalii’s return (alongside a Welch that will be hoping to get more minutes in this year) should ensure we see a much sturdier Queensland defence in the middle.

NSW did not pull any punches in their celebrations from Game 1, so I would be amazed if we do not see a Queensland forward pack full of niggle in Game 2.

Late Queensland team changes

While Walsh looks set to start at 1, I believe there is a strong chance that Queensland pull a late switch, moving Walsh to 14, Holmes back to 1, Ronaldo to debut on the wing, Hunt to start at 9, and McCullough to 18th man. That line up makes a lot more sense to me.

Hunt and Holmes are two of Queensland’s best players and having them on the wing and at 14 is silly in my view. If this change does occur, look to bet them at the juicy prices on offer for these guys to be Man of the Match (Holmes is at $51 and Hunt $81 with TopSport).

While it may sound a bit too much like a conspiracy theory, Queensland naming their 1-17 for Game 2, after only naming the squad for Game 1, seems a strange move to make. Dropping Holmes is also quite strange, so I think Queensland may be playing games.

By making NSW focus on Walsh at 1 and McCullough at 9, Queensland could really unsettle the NSW team by pulling off the late switch-up I have outlined above. They could train like this all week without people knowing until closer to kick off.

NSW weaknesses

This NSW team really has no weakness, with their squad full of in-form, athletic players that have a strong history of playing together (as a result of the Panthers connection).

The only way Queensland can rattle this NSW team is by man-handling the NSW spine of Cook, Tedesco, Luai and Cleary. All of these guys like to run the ball, so when they do run it, Queensland have to make sure they physically feel it. Their defence was far too passive in Game 1 and NSW just dictated terms all night.

Through kick pressure, better line speed and heavy contact, Queensland could force some errors and stop NSW from building the momentum that saw them dominate Game 1.

State of Origin Game 2: Prediction

The market has moved a lot for this match, with the punters not liking the looks of a Queensland team missing Ponga and Grant (two guys I thought would make a big difference for Game 2).

Although Jake T is out for NSW, Crichton is better in my opinion, so not a bad replacement to bring in!

I understand why the bookies now have Queensland as 14 to 16 point underdogs, but it does seem a bit big for a game that will be played in Brisbane.

Because Queensland will try to slow things down, their home ground advantage is significant. This will mean the referees will be under more pressure to ensure Queensland do not cop any dud calls, as 2021’s product has been widely criticised because of the number of blowouts. So, I doubt we will see Queensland penalised out of this match.

With Munster, DCE, Papalii, Fifita, Hunt, Walsh and Holmes, Queensland have plenty of strike weapons that could worry the NSW defence if Queensland can control possession.

On my ratings, NSW are better across the park and although I think the game will be slightly closer than what the bookies think, I am not confident enough to have a bet on Queensland at the plus.

I do think that if Queensland are to be competitive, then the score will likely be very close at half time.

State of Origin Game 2: Prediction

NSW 26
Queensland 16

State of Origin Game 2: Suggested bet

Scores level at halftime: $12 with TopSport

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