Blues level State of Origin series
An inspired New South Wales side has levelled the 2022 State of Origin series at 1-1, dominating Queensland to win 44-12 in front of 59,358 fans at Optus Stadium on Sunday night.
After a terrific opening half that saw the teams trade tries and momentum it was the Blues that burst away after the main break, running in five second half tries and keeping their opponents scoreless to take the series to a decider in Brisbane on July 13th.
Reigning Clive Churchill Medallist and Panthers star Nathan Cleary was superb for New South Wales, scoring two tries and converting all eight field goal opportunities to star in his side's comprehensive victory.
The victory came after Blues coach Brad Fittler made five changes to his starting side in a desperate bid to keep the series alive.
It proved an inspired call as New South Wales replicated their dominant win at the same venue in 2019, with Fittler's men hoping for the same result this time around having won that series 2-1 after a game one loss.
The Blues scored the first points of the match when they were awarded back-to-back strip penalties which led to gift two points for Cleary in the 11th minute.
The Maroons started ferociously and scored the opening try thanks to a beautiful pass from Kalyn Ponga that left the Blues outside backs fuming.
Kaufusi scored his first try in the 22nd minute but the Blues struck back moments later through debutant Matt Burton.
Queensland regained the lead on the half-hour mark thanks to another Ponga pass which led to a Cameron Munster try.
But Kaufusi was binned on the stroke of half-time for a slowing down the ruck on his own goal line and To’o scored on the next set.
Blues winger Daniel Tupou crossed the first try of the second before halves Jarome Hughes and Cleary blew the game open with an eight-minute blitz.
Luai danced through from 20 metres out before Cleary scored two tries in two minutes to ice the game after 66 minutes.
Angus Crichton earned a recall for the game and scored the final try of the night in the 73rd minute.
The series heads to Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday July 13th, the third and final match a decider for what has been a captivating series.
IMAGE: Zero Tackle.