Holden State of Origin II
Queensland 18 New South Wales 26
The 2015 State of Origin will go to a decider in Brisbane after a late Josh Dugan try for New South Wales won a pulsating encounter to level the series.
A record Origin crowd of over 91,000 was packed in to the home of Australian cricket as a game that ebbed and flowed was decided when the Blues’ fullback took Hodkinson’s pass to show a tremendous turn of foot on his way to touching down.
Michael Jennings raced over for the game’s opening score and his searing pace, combined with some fantastic footwork, earned him the man of the match award, though there were a number of candidates wearing Blue, including prop Aaron Woods who led the line with vigour once again.
However, success wasn’t without cost to the Sydneysiders, whose skipper Paul Gallen popped a rib cartiledge and will have to prove his fitness before being able to take his part in game three.
“I’m really proud of the boys,” said Gallen.” “We stuck to our plan. We had a lot go against us but we hung in there and scored some good tries.
“Nate (Myles) got me early and it didn’t hurt, but five or ten minutes later I felt something pop so I got it needled up and I lasted the rest of the game. We’ll have to see how it feels but I should be alright.”
Match-winner Dugan was delighted to have come up with the decisive score and said “We came into camp on Monday and we said from day one it was a must win and we had to come out and be the best team on the night and we showed that tonight.
“We created a few opportunities in game one that we didn’t take and we wanted to take them tonight. We played a bit more footy and it came off for us.”
The ‘G’ has not been a happy hunting ground for Queensland, who have now lost three of the four Origin encounters staged there, but did at least see Inglis return to something like his brilliant best. Cameron Smith was philosophical about the result.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t our night tonight,” said the Maroons’ skipper. “ I thought it was a pretty good game of footy. I thought the atmosphere was fantastic but I’m disappointed with the result.
“We move on to ‘Brissy’ now. It went to and fro in the first half but we came out and scored early in the second half and we just lost our way a couple of times.
“Defensively we got caught out on our line. The effort was great but we have just got to fix some execution things on the field.”
On the back of the game’s first penalty centre Jennings came up with his fourth Origin try to give the Blues an early lead, goaled by Hodkinson.
Offside against New South Wales afforded the Maroons their first real opportunity and after some good footwork and support play by both Smith and fellow pack man Corey Parker, Matt Scott burst on to the ball to score under the posts. Thurston’s conversion levelling it.
The teams exchanged dropouts around the time that Blues’ skipper Gallen left the field for what turned out to be around 10 minutes for treatment to his rib injury.
That didn’t stop the Blues though, as they made a threatening break down the left hand side, though superb covering from their opponents resulted in Smith being able to get first to Brett Morris’s kick. New South Wales weren’t done however, Josh Morris soon returning them to the lead, plucking Hodkinson’s well-weighted kick out of the Melbourne night sky to hold off Thurston and touch down. Hodkinson again converted.
The massive MCG crowd was then treated to a wonderful Origin moment. Thurston linked with Slater mid-way inside the Queensland half. The fullback then released Inglis with a delightful pass around a defender, before the great centre exchanged passed with Darius Boyd, taking the return to complete a magnificent score.
Thurston failed to add the extras, so when his team was caught offside defending inside their own ‘20’, Hodkinson took an easy two points to put his team four clear at the break.
A super piece of play set Queensland on the front foot after the turnaround. Smith’s long range kick was chased down by Thurston, who held Dugan up in goal for a Blues dropout. A repeat set followed, as did a penalty on the last tackle, before Smith linked with Cherry-Evans. The halfback then dropped off the ball to Gillett, who ran a great angle before stepping Gallen to score by the posts.
Thurston took the decision to slot over a straightforward penalty to extend his team’s lead by two, when they had the Blues on the back foot and might have been better served to push for a further try and there would have been a few Queensland fans arguing that when Woods shrugged off both Matt Scott and Slater to plunder his way over six minutes later. Hodkinson’s boot nosed his team back in front.
They looked to have taken a grip on proceedings when another electric run from Jennings gave them good field position, but Brett Morris’s pass to ‘scorer’ Mitchell Pearce was adjudged forward.
Moments later a 90-metre incerception by Inglis looked like it might seal it for the Maroons, but that too was ruled out for a knock-on against Michael Morgan in the tackle on Pearce.
The youthful New South Wales team stepped up the already frenetic pace in the closing minutes and came up trumps with Dugan’s moment of magic, taking Hodkinson’s pass to zip through the tiring Queensland defence and complete another memorable MCG night for the Blues.
New South Wales
1 Josh Dugan 8
2 Will Hopoate 7
3 Josh Morris 7
4 Michael Jennings 9
5 Brett Morris 8
6 Mitchell Pearce 7
7 Trent Hodkinson 8
8 Aaron Woods 9
9 Robbie Farah 8
10 James Tamou 8
11 Beau Scott 8
12 Ryan Hoffman 7
13 Paul Gallen (Capt) 8
14 Trent Merrin 7
15 Boyd Cordner 7
16 David Klemmer 7
17 Josh Jackson 6
Tries: Jennings (4), J Morris (26), Woods (62), Dugan (70)
Goals: Hodkinson 5/5
1 Billy Slater 8
2 Darius Boyd 6
3 Greg Inglis 8
4 Justin Hodges 7
5 Will Chambers 6
6 Johnathan Thurston 8
7 Daly Cherry-Evans 7
8 Matt Scott 7
9 Cameron Smith (Capt) 7
10 Nate Myles 7
11 Aidan Guerra 6
12 Sam Thaiday 7
13 Corey Parker 7
Subs (all used)
14 Michael Morgan 6
15 Josh McGuire 7
16 Matt Gillett 7
17 Jacob Lillyman 6
Tries: Scott (11), Inglis (33) , Gillett (47)
Goal: Thurston 3/4
Referee: Gerard Sutton 70/100 Ben Cummins 70/100
Man of the Match: Michael Jennings – Blistering pace that unsettled Queensland’s defence
Match rating: 4/5