State of Origin Game II preview: Can Queensland complete series win over New South Wales?
Watch New South Wales vs Queensland live on Sky Sports Arena on June 23 from 10am
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 23/06/19 10:15am
New South Wales must overcome Queensland in the second game of the 2019 State of Origin in Perth this Sunday in order to keep the series alive.
The Maroons proved too strong for the Blues in the opening game of the 38th State of Origin series as they secured a come-from-behind 18-14 win at Lang Park to move within one victory of reclaiming the shield.
Brad Fittler has rolled the dice with his selection, making several changes to his side, but Queensland head to Optus Stadium hoping that continuity leads to a successful defence of their title.
Kevin Walters has recalled Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby for Origin II after Jai Arrow (ankle) and Joe Ofahengaue (knee laceration) were ruled out, but can the Maroons wrap up the series?
How did Game 1 unfold?
Queensland came from 8-0 behind to win 18-14 and go 1-0 up in front of a home crowd at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
A Nathan Cleary penalty and superbly taken Josh Morris try after a fabulous James Tedesco step in the build-up left the Blues 8-0 ahead at half-time.
Twice Queensland were denied scores in the first half - Corey Oates for a foot in touch and Dylan Napa with the Video Ref deducing a loss of control while grounding.
Queensland started the second half in command though and Oates would not be denied a try on the night as he finished spectacularly in the corner on 53 minutes after a superb interchange between Kalyn Ponga and Felise Kaufusi created the opening.
Ponga levelled things up from a penalty soon after and though the home side butchered two clear overlaps during the bin period, Dane Gagai intercepted a Jack Wighton pass to run the full length of the field and score.
Gagai finished brilliantly in the corner to score his second try with nine minutes left - his 11th in 11 Origin games - having taken in a wonderful Ponga left-hand pass.
Though Jake Trbojevic scored a late try to bring New South Wales back to within four points, Queensland had done enough to take victory.
The Key Battle
Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker failed to click in Brisbane, but the return of James Maloney to the side will certainly boost Cleary's chances of playing a significant role.
Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans was given far too much freedom to orchestrate proceedings, with the likes of Cameron Munster profiting from the game playing into his strengths.
But Maloney has previously shown he is capable of dominating for New South Wales, and another big performance will be needed in order for the Cherry-Evans and Munster axis to be broken down.
What's been said?
Walters fired a warning to New South Wales in the build-up to Game II, claiming his side were only "six out of 10" at best during their comeback victory.
Without mentioning his opponents by name, he said: "I'm here to talk about the Queensland team and how good this Queensland team is going to be in game two.
"The other team have done what they've done, but that doesn't bother me one little bit. I sleep easier knowing this Queensland team we've picked is a good side and will be a great side.
"Our work this week will be all about fine-tuning some areas of our game that need to get better and will get better."
Fittler knows his side must execute the perfect game in order to take the series to a decider, but he has completely reshuffled his backline.
State of Origin 2019
Game I: Queensland 18-14 New South Wales (Wednesday June 5, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
Game II: Queensland vs New South Wales (Sunday June 23, Optus Stadium, Perth, live on Sky Sports)
Game III: New South Wales vs Queensland (Wednesday July 10, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, live on Sky Sports)
Latrell Mitchell is the headline omission, axed on his 22nd birthday, while Walker, Angus Crichton and Josh Morris have also been dropped.
David Klemmer, Payne Haas and Nick Cotric miss out due to injury, meaning a chance for Blake Ferguson, Tom Trbojevic, James Maloney, Daniel Saifiti, Dale Finucane, Wade Graham and Tariq Sims.
The absence of superstar centre Mitchell has certainly caused a stir, and Fittler admitted: "That's been the hardest decision in coaching thus far.
"I'm sure he'll be back in the Blues jersey before you know it. Let's hope he gets his smile back and his swagger.
"The biggest one we had expectations up at Suncorp and we didn't meet those expectations. I suppose Latrell is a bit of a consequence of (losing game one)."
Sky Bet odds - Outright winner
New South Wales: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Blake Ferguson, 3 Tom Trbojevic, 4 Jack Wighton, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary; 8 Daniel Saifiti, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Tyson Frizell, 13 Jake Trbojevic.
Interchange: 14 Dale Finucane, 15 Tariq Sims, 16 Cameron Murray, 17 Wade Graham.
Queensland: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Corey Oates, 3 Michael Morgan, 4 Will Chambers, 5 Dane Gagai, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans; 8 Dylan Napa, 9 Ben Hunt, 10 Josh Papalii, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire.
Interchange: 14 Moses Mbye, 15 Jarrod Wallace, 16 Tim Glasby, 17 David Fifita.