Rugby League

State of Origin Game 1 live – New South Wales to edge Queensland in thriller

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  • New South Wales and Queensland collide in the opening game of the 2015 State of Origin series on Wednesday night
  • The Blues will be attempting to successfully defend a series for the first time since 2005
  • NSW have won four of the last five games played at ANZ Stadium

The opening State of Origin clash between NSW and QLD kicks off on Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium.
New South Wales will be attempting to defend a State of Origin series for the first time since 2005 when they play host to Queensland in the opening game of the 2015 series on Wednesday night.

NSW clinched last year’s drought-breaking series win with a narrow triumph over QLD in Sydney, and now they return to the same venue 12 months on in search of a similar result.

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – Game 1 of the 2015 State of Origin series, with the Blues in the unfamiliar position of defending champions, and the Maroons out for immediate revenge.

Nothing gets the blood pumping than 34 warriors going hammer and tong for 80 minutes representing their state in search of rugby league’s best prize outside the NRL grand final.

What a rivalry it’s been over the years. Courtesy of their unprecedented dominance over the last decade, Queensland have moved head in the all-time match-up record, leading 54-46, with two draws. Mal Meninga’s troops have won eight of the last nine series, winning 19 of the 30 matches over that period and scoring 22 more tries than the Blues.

However when games are played at ANZ Stadium, history tells us that NSW traditionally have the advantage. Laurie Daley’s charges have won four of their last five games played at the ground, while also winning 15 of the 22 played their overall.

Expect a close game here. Three of the last four Origins have been decided by less than a converted try, while the last time Game 1 of a series was decided by more than 10 points was way back in 2003.

One major reason why NSW came away with the spoils last year was on the back of their brick-wall defence, which restricted Queensland’s superstar attack superbly.

The Blues only scored 18 points across the first two games to win the series, and they will need to draw on that same determination in defence to produce a similar performance in 2015.

Daley has been forced to tinker with his winning halves combination from last year. The former Blues five-eighth simply couldn’t justify the selection of Josh Reynolds at pivot, instead opting to recall Mitchell Pearce and hand him the No. 6 jersey.

Pearce has struggled immensely in the Origin arena in the past, and he will be under huge pressure to perform alongside the equally under-fire Trent Hodkinson.

Hodkinson has been ridiculously out of form for the Bulldogs in 2015, however his unrivalled field goal heroics could come in handy if the scores are locked in the final 10 minutes.

Josh Dugan replaces the NFL-bound Jarryd Hayne at fullback, while Robbie Farah will captain the side in the absence of the injured Paul Gallen.

Canterbury duo Josh Jackson and David Klemmer make their Origin debuts, with Greg Bird out suspended and Daley deciding to axe veteran utility Luke Lewis.

Queensland meanwhile have stuck with the same tried and tested formula they’ve employed for the better part of the last decade, with Michael Morgan and Josh McGuire the only fresh faces called into the side by Meninga.

Remember the Maroons lost Cooper Cronk early in the opening game of last year’s series with broken arm, which in turn had an extremely adverse affect on QLD’s attack.

With a full-strength backline and a strong preparation, the Maroons will be ready to come out full guns blazing, and it will take a tremendous effort from the Blues to withstand their forays into the attacking third.

Let’s look at current form of the players in each side. Queensland have 13 of their 17 players currently playing in sides sitting in the top four on the NRL ladder. Compare that with NSW who have just three players from top four sides and seven from the top eight, along with five from the bottom three teams.

That clearly tells me who’s players are the more confident heading into the clash, at least individually. It will be up to Daley to re-install that winning confidence from last year’s series in camp this week.


Despite Queensland seemingly possessing more positives leading into the clash, I’m backing the Blues with juicy odds here. I’m backing Daley to get his boys revved up big time here. I’m loving the NSW bench of Merrin, Klemmer, Fifita and Cordner. Klemmer and Fifita in particular have the ability to tear the game wide open, while I’m also liking the workmanlike and disciplined starting back-row of Hoffman, Scott and Jackson.

A common misconception in Origin games is that the result all comes down to the halves. But the reality is the halves can’t do their job if the forwards don’t eat up the metres in the middle and create space for them to attack in the process. Queensland are fielding their oldest Origin team in history, with the average age being 29. Quite simply, I believe the Blues have the superior forward pack. Combine that with their great record at ANZ and recently in Origin openers, and I’m tipping them to prevail in another tight one. Don’t be surprised to see Hodkinson suddenly regain his confidence with a match-winning field goal.


David Cox
David is Crunch Sport's baseball guru. He's a walking, talking almanac when it comes to stats and facts. His elementary school dreams of playing professionally were scuppered by terrible co-ordination, but luckily his writing skills kept him in touch with his beloved sport through high school and beyond.

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