THE vanquished NSW Blues are the favourites to win the State of Origin dead rubber at Sportsbet.com.au, despite another disappointing series loss to Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Queensland needed only two games to record its 10th series win from the last 11 Origin affairs, outclassing and outsmarting the Blues 26-16 in Origin 2.
Leading for the majority of the game, the Maroons held the Blues at bay in a tense final 20 minutes which included tries from both teams.
The pivotal moment of the game came when Michael Jennings knocked the ball on when trying to score, which would have tied the game, instead the Maroons would score next with Corey Oates in the left corner, sealing the final result.
New South Wales has opened up as $1.80 favourite for Game 3 on July 13. Queensland sit at $2. The dead-rubber match has no significance on the series , but it has already been mooted that Queensland may field an under-strength side.
Dane Gagai the key to Maroon victory
Newcastle winger Dane Gagai had an Origin to remember with a hat-trick of tries.
Gagai was under an injury cloud throughout the week, but churned in a top performance in equaling Greg Inglis’ try-scoring record for his first three games.
“It’s unbelievable! Like I said, I don’t think I’ve even score a hat-trick in club footy, but to be a part of such a quality team, they make my job so much easier and I’m just grateful to be part of such an elite team,” Gagai said.
One of the turning points of the game was when the Blues were on attack, but an errant pass from the error-prone Michael Jennings gave Gagai a clear 90-metre run to the line. Tyson Frizell and Blake Ferguson chased gamely, but Gagai had too much class.
“I think I took a few carries and the lungs were burning. I had Ferguson to beat, I was heading for the corner and I was pretty confident I was going to get there. But little did I know I had a big Tyson Frizell behind me and I tell you what, he can move for a big man. I was fortunate enough that I made it in the end,” Gagai said.
The Maroons opened up as $1.55 favourites at Sportsbet.com.au, but were hammered in the betting before Origin 2. The juggernaut side got wound into $1.47 before game time and there were plenty of happy punters in Australia and around the world.
Game 3 in Sydney will now be a dead rubber, but for Queensland hooker Corey Parker, it will signal his last State of Origin game in the maroon jersey. Parker was letting it all sink in after the win on Wednesday night in front of his adoring fans.
“It hasn’t really sunk in mate, to be honest. It’s been an amazing ride, this rep scene, and I think you saw it tonight again. Queensland just stood up. It was fantastic,” Parker said following the win.
“[New South Wales] are a quality side, they came out to play and I think you just saw that with their efforts in the first half. It was good for us that we were able to stick with our game plan and come away with a good win.
“It’s part of our DNA. When you pull on the jersey, you live and breathe for that jersey and everyone else in Queensland, for the other 4.3 million people that watch us, that get affected by what we do, it’s something very special.
“These moments I suppose in a few years time I will look back on, so I’m going to enjoy this one.”
New South Wales debutant Tyson Frizell had a good game, but the Blues were unable to capitalise on any momentum the forwards had created for themselves. The halves-pairing of Adam Reynolds and James Maloney didn’t have the finish needed to beat Queensland and Frizell discussed his disappointment despite scoring on debut.
“[My debut try] doesn’t really matter. We came here to do a job and unfortunately we didn’t come away with the win. At the end of the day, that’s what we wanted. Even though it’s great to debut for New South Wales, it’s pretty disappointing to not come home with the win,” Frizell said.
“We didn’t get too many opportunities down there. I felt when we did we caused some trouble. We just needed to play some more footy down their end and be a bit more cleaner with the ball. I think that’s what’s let us down at the end of the day.”
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