NSW set up State of Origin decider
Having won the battle, NSW coach Ricky Stuart says the Blues now have to prove they can win the war after Todd Carney stepped up to the plate to set up a State of Origin decider with a 16-12 win on Wednesday night.
HAVING won the battle, NSW coach Ricky Stuart says the Blues now have to prove they can win the war after Todd Carney stepped up to the plate to set up a State of Origin decider with a 16-12 win on Wednesday night.
The Blues moved one step closer to ending Queensland’s record six-year dominance of the interstate classic, Carney’s Origin moment arriving after a forgettable debut when he provided the spark which changed the course of the game.
Now Stuart says, the entire team has to change the course of Origin history.
“These boys have shown they can win an Origin game, now we have to show we can win an Origin series,” Stuart said.
“We have to prove to ourselves more than anybody else that we can win an Origin series.”
Central to that will be Carney, who was one of many Blues heroes; Robbie Farah coming up with a marathon 64 tackles and Greg Bird taking out man of the match honours.
With his side given the benefit of a one-man advantage after Cooper Cronk was sin-binned for denying the Blues five-eighth an opportunity to score, Carney hit the go button to change the match irrevocably.
Having just booted a penalty to lock it up at 6-all, Carney brushed through an Ashley Harrison tackle on his own 20 metre line before finding Brett Stewart in support for his second try of the night.
Four minutes later it was 16-6 to the Blues, Jarryd Hayne cleverly kicking the ball ahead after being stripped by Johnathan Thurston to complete a mesmerising spell for the home side.
“You don’t get many opportunities in Origin,” Stuart said.
“Just the pass to Brett Stewart was a tough skill.
“He took the line on a lot more tonight.”
Just as NSW did in Origin I when Michael Jennings was spelled for ten minutes, the Maroons paid dearly for Cronk’s binning, his decision to deny Carney a near certain six points instead becoming 12 by the time he returned.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith conceded Cronk’s stint off the field was pivotal.
“We struggled when Cooper got put in the sin-bin,” he said.
“They scored two tries and we couldn’t recover … we had a lot of field position in the second half but unfortunately we couldn’t get the win and that’s one-all and we’ll go back to Brisbane for the decider.
Cronk did his best to make amends with a brilliant kick-chase on his return which secured a repeat set for the Maroons, and then almost like clockwork, Queensland started their late charge.
Two straight sets were repelled by the Blues but a third was beyond them, Darius Boyd tapping back a Thurston bomb for Greg Inglis to stretch his Origin record tally to 14 tries.
It looked like the Maroons had broken NSW hearts when Brent Tate leapt highest to reel in a bomb in the corner, but just as he seemed set to fall over and score Jennings arrived to tap the ball out of his grasp.
The Blues had already had the life punched out of them on the stroke of halftime when after a spirited opening stanza they went to the sheds trailing when Ben Hannant scored a minute before the break.
Stewart’s 25th-minute try seemed scant reward for NSW’s dominance of the opening period after Akuila Uate inexplicably allowed a bomb to bounce near his line and Boyd tapped back for Harrison to feed Hannant who dived over under the posts.
IMAGE: Brett Stewart of New South Wales celebrates his 2nd try against Queensland during game 2 of the State of Origin rugby league series in Sydney, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. New South Wales defeated Queensland 16-12 to even the series at one game each. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)