The 2013 State of Origin series will go down to a decider after Queensland handed NSW a heavy 24-6 defeat in Game II. While Queensland were clearly the stronger team on the night, the result was overshadowed by the sin-binning of four players as the Maroons squared the ledger in front of their home fans.
After issuing a mandate that fighting would not be tolerated following the now infamous Paul Gallen punches in Origin I, the NRL will be forced to defend its new stance after the referees farcically sent four players from the field. Trent Merrin and Greg Bird from the Blues and Justin Hodges and Brent Tate from the Maroons were all sin-binned for 10 minutes, following a second-half incident where Merrin seemed to be the only player to throw a punch. The decision left both captains and commentators alike bewildered and will no doubt be the big talking point ahead of Origin III.
Despite the controversy Queensland will go into the decider full of confidence they can continue their series dominance to eight years after turning the tables on the Blues in front of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium. The Maroons jumped out of the box, with Sam Thaiday crashing over for a try inside two minutes and the Blues were on the back foot the rest of the night.
Half-back Johnathan Thurston, who again went into the match under an injury cloud after it was revealed he spent the previous night in hospital with stomach pains, extended the lead with a penalty goal. This was followed up with a try to Darius Boyd, who was on the end of another bit of Queensland’s backline brilliance to ensure Queensland went to the break 14-0 up.
There was no respite for NSW in the second-half, with a poor kicking game and handling errors, combined with some barraging runs from their opposition, never allowing the Blues a chance to assert the dominance they showed in Game 1.
Greg Inglis jumped above Souths teammate and debutant Nathan Merritt to extend the lead in the second-half. While Brett Morris got NSW on the board with a try in the corner, Darius Boyd crossed for his second to ensure the Maroons ran out comfortable winners on the night.
It was a great night for Queensland all round, with Kevin Rudd regaining the Labor leadership and an expected second opportunity at the Prime Ministership from Julia Gillard. While the eyes of the nation will no doubt be on the fall-out from the leadership spill we’re sure the real showdown everyone will be waiting for will be Origin III in Sydney in three weeks time.
A packed SSC clubhouse enjoyed a great atmosphere throughout the game, watching all the drama unfold on our big screen with surround sound. We hope you can join us for the decider as NSW again attempt to bring Queensland’s winning reign to an end.