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New South Wales defeat Queensland in game two

New South Wales have leveled the State of Origin series with an impressive and courageous 18-8 victory in front of 81,965 at ANZ Stadium.
New South Wales defeat Queensland in game two
by NRL

New South Wales have leveled the State of Origin series with an impressive and courageous 18-8 victory in front of 81,965 at ANZ Stadium.

After narrowly going down in the opening game in Brisbane it was all or nothing for the Blues tonight and the team moulded specifically by Ricky Stuart rose to the occasion and played the game perfectly for the cattle selected.

The players Stuart changed and had faith in all delivered in a big way and the passion Stuart has for coaching rubbed off onto his players and the spirit displayed by New South Wales was totally amazing.

Queensland led 8-6 at half-time in a first half where the Blues kept coming at the Maroons, but an early penalty goal to Johnathan Thurston and a smart try to Cameron Smith exposing a gap around the ruck area moments after Michael Ennis was interchanged.

The introduction of Luke Lewis into the match swung the momentum towards New South Wales when with just his second touch of the ball leaped above the pack to collect a kick from Mitchell Pearce to score.

New South Wales gained the lead nine minutes into the second half when debutant William Hopoate scored a brilliant try in the left hand corner with just millimetres to spare from the sideline displaying great acrobatics. Jamie Soward landed a beauty from the sideline for the Blues to lead 12-8.

In previous times when New South Wales hit the lead they would panic and fall back into playing negative football, but on this occasion they still played positive football and with Soward doing virtually all the kicking the pinned Queensland deep in their own half.

There were times Queensland threatened to steal the game away from New South Wales making several dangerous raids including on one occasion when Cooper Cronk was poised to score only for a desperate tackle from Lewis saved the day.

A stupid penalty given away from Ennis inside the final ten minutes gave Queensland a full set on the Blues line, but their defence on this occasion held firm and Queensland were unable to capitalise on the Ennis brain explosion as they did in the previous two Origin matches.

Soward's kicking game in the last few minutes caused Queensland to make errors and from a scrum win Soward beat the first up tackle from Billy Slater to setup Anthony Minichiello for the match-winner.

New South Wales emerged 18-8 winners with captain Paul Gallen at prop producing one of the all-time great performances at representative level. Gallen made 28 runs for 234 metres and also came off with 32 tackles.

Other great performers for the Blues included Lewis, Soward and Minichiello with the latter making an amazing comeback to representative football after a four year absence and a horrific run with injuries. Lewis just showed what an amazingly consistent and reliable player he is and Soward has arrived at the next level proving his doubters wrong once again.

The only major injury concern at this stage appears be Hopoate, who came off after 60 minutes with a hamstring injury.

The series decider between Australia's two greatest states will be played at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday 6th July 2011.

All praise from game two deserves to go with Stuart who picked a team specifically on the strengths for New South Wales and delivered a game plan that was perfect for the team under his control.

Whilst this great match was being played live on television to millions of viewers nationally and internationally the best that could be dredged up by the AFL was a 1986 clash in their defunct State of Origin concept on their Foxtel channel (FS1).

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