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Queensland heavy Origin favourites after Game 1 triumph

GAME 1 of the 2016 State of Origin series is in the books after Queensland upset New South Wales in a tense battle at ANZ Stadium.

As a result, Sportsbet now has the the Maroons as a $1.55 favourite to clinch their 10th series in 11 years in Game 2 on June 22. They will start with a -4 line at $1.91.

Sportsbet punters that made the most of the $4 head-to-head special promoted throughout the week were able to cash in heavily – a result that would not have pleased the bookmaker.

Only two tries were scored on Wednesday night – but the final score of 6-4 still made for enjoyable viewing.

The Blues scored the first try of the game when Boyd Cordner was gifted a pass off a gutsy James Maloney run, but the Maroons hit back just before halftime when Dane Gagai finished off a slick back line move to go up 6-4.

That was the end of the scoring and it appeared that both teams were reluctant to spread the ball in fear of making a mistake. Tactics should change in three week’s time when the two sides meet again at Suncorp Stadium.

The Maroons will have home ground advantage, which has proved a winning asset over the past 10 years, and the bookmakers have installed them as the firm favourites.

Punters looking to bet on New South Wales will be getting $2.40, which is a good price considering how well the Blues played in Game 1. Had the next game been played in Sydney, we would have sided with the Blues, but going against a juggernaut that is Queensland at home is risky business.

The Blues didn’t take the loss kindly and reverted back to their old ways by blaming the refs. Blues coach Laurie Daley was quick to put the boot into Gerard Sutton and Ben Cummings, but Daley forgot to mention most of the 50/50 calls came from the bunker.

“I’ll be asking for those referees not to be officiating in game two. There’s your story,” Daley said.

“Based on history and based on that game.”

Blues captain Robbie Farah is never short of words when it comes to referees and he also showed his dismay about the no-try decision when Josh Morris appeared to be stopped short of the line in the 66th minute.

“[If] the ref calls try, it’s got to be 100 per cent conclusive that it’s not,” Farah said.

“I don’t know how they can come up with a [no try] call there.”

The Blues were awarded possession which led to the Morris no try by a suspect call on the other side of the field.

Whilst Maroons coach Kevin Walters admitted his team got the rub of the green, the Blues shouldn’t be focusing on the refs ahead of Game 2.

“Being honest, we did get some nice calls, some favourable calls. And you need that to win at this level,” Walters said.

“You need a bit of assistance in different areas and have a bit of luck and that was the case for Queensland tonight.

“All those 50/50 calls certainly went Queensland’s way.”

New South Wales will be hoping its star players can step up in Game 2. Blake Ferguson was one of the best of the park, but all of his good work was getting his team out of trouble. The Blues sustained very little pressure on the Queensland line and they didn’t look willing to put on any back line moves.

The pressure will be on the likes of Michael Jennings, providing he makes the cut, and also Matthew Moylan, who looked good in patches, but was clearly suffering from some Origin nerves.

There are some good try-scoring bets on the Queensland side with big Broncos winger Corey Oates the current favourite at $2. Oates had a strong performance in Game 1, especially bringing the tiring forward pack out of trouble. He had a chance to score off a Greg Inglis break in the second half, but was too tired from hitting the ball up all night.

Game 1 hero Dane Gagai is $2.37 to score in Game 2 and he showed just how willing he is to get into the action. Gagai was in the thick of the action all night and he duly got rewarded by crossing the line for his second Origin try.

Other strong performances from the Maroons came from Darius Boyd who played a flawless came in the fullback position. It was the first time Boyd had put the number one jersey on for Queensland and his defensive play was superb. Josh Papalii came off the bench and gave Queensland some much-needed go-forward ball.

If the Blues are going to turn the tables on the Maroons in Game 2, we think Laurie Daly might have to use his bench more effectively. Dylan Walker was only brought on late and he instantly made an error. The lack of play will do his confidence no good and the tactic to bring him on with only minutes remaining is a head-scratching decision.

David Klemmer made an impact, but for all the wrong reasons. The galloping Bulldog has a knack of lifting his knees into tackles – which is illegal, and it subsequently knocked out Queensland utility Michael Morgan. Some people are calling for action to be taken against Klemmer and because he’s such a tall player, the danger becomes even more apparent.

Blues coach Laurie Daly will likely stick with the Reynolds/Maloney combination as another change would set them back. Maloney has played Origin before and that experience showed, but Reynolds played the disappearing act and his only contribution was putting up high bombs which were easily diffused by Boyd at the back.

It’s shaping up as another series win for Queensland, which is now $1.22 to win the series at Sportsbet. If you like New South Wales to score a rare win at Suncorp the $2.40 is a good price, but taking the $4.30 available for the Blues to win the series is the better bet. Going back to Sydney tied 1-1 would put them in the driver’s seat and the head-to-head price for that game would likely be $1.60.