Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over both states in preparation for Sunday night with his State of Origin tips for Game 2 of the 2022 series.

New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons @ Optus Stadium, Perth
Sunday 26th June, 7:50pm

BluesMaroons
James Tedesco1Kalyn Ponga
Brian To’o2Selwyn Cobbo
Matt Burton3Valentine Holmes
Stephen Crichton4Dane Gagai
Daniel Tupou5Murray Taulagi
Jarome Luai6Cameron Munster
Nathan Cleary7Daly Cherry-Evans
Payne Haas8Lindsay Collins
Api Koroisau9Ben Hunt
Jake Trbojevic10Josh Papalii
Cameron Murray11Kurt Capewell
Liam Martin12Felise Kaufusi
Isaah Yeo13Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Damien Cook14Harry Grant
Angus Crichton15Jai Grant
Junior Paulo16Patrick Carrigan
Siosifa Talakai17Jeremiah Nanai


History:
Played 124, New South Wales 57, Queensland 65

Last Meeting: Game I, 2022: Queensland 16 def. New South Wales 10

Final Thoughts: The Queensland Maroons went into Game 1 with a plan to suffocate the New South Wales Blues. Apply pressure – to Nathan Cleary on 5th tackle, in particular – dominate the middle and find points when in good ball. They held firm defensively and the Blues had no answers. Plan A didn’t work for Brad Fittler and his side didn’t appear to have a Plan B.

The Blues tinkerman has responded by making a number of changes to his side for Game 2. Tariq Sims, Kotoni Staggs, Ryan Matterson, Jack Wighton and Reagan Campbell-Gillard are all gone. Angus Crichton, Matt Burton, Siosifa Talakai, Jake Trbojevic and Api Koroisau come in as their replacements. Meanwhile, injury has forced Reuben Cotter and Xavier Coates out of the Maroons with Jai Arrow and Murray Taulagi called in for Sunday.

With Game 3 set for Suncorp Stadium and Queensland already in possession of a 1-0 lead, it’s must-win for Fittler and the Blues in Perth.

New South Wales Getting Level

The Blues went into the series opener with a plan to have their back-five do the bulk of the work in yardage to get down into the Maroons end before the Panthers contingent manufactured points in good ball. While James Tedesco, Brian To’o, Jack Wighton and Daniel Tupou combined for almost 900 running metres on the night, the attack didn’t fire. Wighton managed to cross the line early on but the Blues struggled from that point. Expecting to see them adopt a Panthers-like approach in good ball, New South Wales managed only one forced dropout as Queensland handled everything thrown at them in defence.

New South Wales needs to change things up for Game 2 and they have called on Apisai Koroisau, in particular, to provide that difference. Yet another Panther in the mix, Koroisau’s inclusion allows Fittler to run with a dual-hooker rotation – something he thought Queensland used well in the opener.

First, though, the Blues need to generate some ruck speed through the middle. Fittler has taken his jabs at the referees at every opportunity since Game 1. Provided he has spent just as much time adjusting to Ashley Klein who has been named to referee Game 2 and will likely do so in the same manner he did the first, the Blues should perform better in the ruck. Whether that’s winning the contact and getting forward or slowing things down through their ruck control in defence, it’s an area the Blues must improve on if they’re to take the chocolates on Sunday.

Points & Where They’re Coming From

Following only 26 points scored in Game 1, the points total for Game 2 of the 2022 State of Origin series is set at 38.5. The Blues know how to pile up points when they get on a roll and are favoured to go Over their 19.5 total ($1.87). Similarly, despite not playing with the high-powered attack most attribute to the Blues, the Maroons are at $1.80 to go Over their 17.5 mark.

Daniel Tupou kicked off as the favourite to score first in Game 1 but is on the second line of betting for Game 2 behind Brian To’o ($9.75 first try scorer/$2.10 anytime) at $10 to score first ($2.18 anytime). Jack Wighton dotted over first in Sydney but isn’t available for this one. Matt Burton ($15/$2.80) takes his place while Stephen Crichton ($14/$2.85) has earned a start in the other centre spot. Always sniffing around the ball in support, James Tedesco ($13/$2.75) is an appealing option in a Blues side that will need to make the most of limited opportunities.

For Queensland, State of Origin debutant Murray Taulagi ($11/$2.35) and Selwyn Cobbo ($11/$2.20) are favourites to cross the line. Valentine Holmes ($15/$2.95) has an incredible knack for finding the line in this arena and will thrive beside his Cowboys teammate on the left edge. Kalyn Ponga ($16/$3.15) looked dangerous in Game 1 and deserves a look ahead of Game 2 while Tino Fa’asuamaleaui ($46/$9.50) should be considered as a roughie in the middle against what is a smaller Blues pack. His combination with Harry Grant ($19/$4) has the potential to reignite if the Maroons can generate enough tackles inside the opposition’s 20-metre line.

State of Origin 2 Tips

While the Blues have made changes and talked about how they’re going to adjust and improve, the Maroons have gone about their business in the build-up to State of Origin Game 2. Billy Slater was forced into a couple of changes but has otherwise named the same side that is likely to play roughly the same way in this one.

The pressure is on New South Wales. They need to win to send this series to a decider. Queensland will again keep it tight and wait for mistakes. They will look to get the game into a grind and not allow the Blues to get on the front foot. Fittler’s side thrives as front-runners and once they get a roll on they’re tough to stop. They aren’t, however, all that reliable in closer contests. The longer the game is tight, the better Queensland tends to look. Expect to wait longer than eight minutes for the first try ($1.72). Queensland certainly won’t throw the ball around and New South Wales, while eager to pile up points, will need some time to work new faces in the squad into the game.

Slater nailed his bench rotation in Game 1. He saw a need for some leg speed and yardage through the middle and introduced Carrigan early. Fittler, on the other hand, has named a strange bench and carries a history of poor rotations.

Still, the Blues should improve. While different to Game 1, the 17 running out for Game 2 will do so as $1.71 and -2.5 favourites. It’s difficult to trust Fittler and yet another new-look team to end up on top. What we can expect, however, is for the game to be close regardless of the result.

Tip: Tri Bet (8.5) – Either Team by 8.5 or Less @ $2.05