Game 3 in the State of Origin heads up to the cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, for the deciding game of the series on Wednesday night. As usual, our Rugby expert Scooby has you covered with a full preview and betting tips for the crucial Game 3 between Queensland and NSW below!
The meaningful Game 3 outcome was achieved after a commanding 34-10 victory to the Blues in Game 2 last week. A 7th minute try to the Maroons had their opponents on the backfoot, but they never let it worry them as they went on to score 2 more unanswered tries prior to HT. The score of 18-4 gave some hope to the visitors but that was quickly silenced with a 42nd minute try in the second half. It didn’t help that the Maroons lost Cameron Munster to a concussion inside 3 minutes, but one player would hardly turn around the 34-10 final score. It would be concerning that the Maroons were pulled apart so easily by their opponents, with the Blues somewhat unlucky not to have more points to their tally. The statistics in Game 1 gave some indication that NSW were capable of this, only to be further supported at the end of Game 2.
With 54% possession, the Blues completed at 89% compared to the Maroons 74%, while running for 640m more and averaging 9.1m per carry, well ahead of the Maroons 7.7m. The pain doesn’t stop there; they had more post contacted metres (706 v 526), more line breaks (7 v 3) and tackle breaks (31 v 26). Perhaps the most glaring statistic in attack was that the fact that NSW made 283 kick return metres compared to the Maroons 46. In defence, the Maroons were forced to make 74 more tackles, while also missing 31 compared to the Blues 26. All areas of their performance was a stark contrast to what they achieved in Game 1 and now this squad and their experienced coaches will have a difficult time of turning this performance around in the space of a week. The Blues will also love the opportunity to win the series on enemy territory. Hopefully, this is the Origin game that fans deserve after a long and arduous season.
It was going to be interesting to see whether or not the Maroons would enforce change after such a disappointing loss and there are few changes. Corey Allan comes onto the wing for Philip Sami, while Christian Welch returns at prop after missing Game 2 through concussion. His returns pushes Dunamis Lui back to the bench and Moeaki Fotuaika to the reserves. Harry Grant has been named in the utility role for the Maroons on the bench, with Ben Hunt pushed back to the reserves. They will be looking to him for attacking spark when he takes the field. At this stage, Cameron Munster is named at 5/8 after leaving the field through concussion in Game 2.
New South Wales
Unchanged from Game 2. All players that have niggling injuries, including Josh Addo-Carr, are expected to take their place on Wednesday night.
The journey north of the boarder is not a good one to make if you are in a Blues jersey for a decider; NSW have not won a Game 3 decider at this ground since 2005. If they do manage to win, they will be the first NSW team since 2005 to win three straight series too. Queensland have also won 4 out of the past 5 Game 3 deciders, regardless of the venue. In these matches, the average margin of victory, excluding the 2015 46-point blowout win to the Maroons is 6.3 points.
In the past 5 Game 3 matches, the Maroons have crossed the line first, with Kaufusi (2019) being the only forward in this time, with other tries to wingers (Holmes and Gagai) in 2018, 2017 and 2015, with Inglis scoring in 2016. As for the first scoring play, NSW have kicked a penalty goal on two occasions with the other 3 being tries to the Maroons. For MOM honours, a player in the spine (1,6,7 and 9) have won every time since 2015.
The Blues appear to be in the box seat to take out this contest. Their team improved significantly from Game 1 and their persistence was rewarded with victory. Unfortunately for the Maroons, it appears as though their opponents will have their measure. Losing Munster early in Game 2 significantly impacted their chances but his presence on the field would not have turned around the result. The NSW forward carry the ball with more conviction and their speed wears down the Maroons in the middle.
Combine this with a great kicking game that was executed to perfection by Cleary last week and it appears to be the right balance. The home ground advantage will undoubtedly count for something. The Maroons lift to another level when they take the field at Suncorp Stadium but that will only take them so far. If anything, it should ensure that this game is not a blowout like Game 2. Queensland will have their moments in this game and will make the Blues work hard for the victory but ultimately, only outcome appears likely.
If you’re an outside back for the Maroons, history shows that you’re a good chance of crossing the line first. Corey Allan makes his debut in this game but his inexperience should not count against him. He is a capable player and will be able to finish off an attacking movement if put in the right situation. For value, the power of Papalii close to the line is difficult for anyone to stop. If this is a tight game, expect the Maroons enforcer to take things into his own hands. For the Blues, their wingers were outstanding in Game 2 and will again be a chance of crossing first. Searching for more value though, Tedesco was just about everywhere and will again be popping up in the middle of the field in support, while also out on the edge. Similar to him, Cody Walker was always dangerous. His connection with Damien Cook means opponents can never take their eyes off him. Include him for value, especially if the Blues have a sweeping backline movement and he has the ball in his hands.
DCE is the leader of this Maroons outfit for a reason. This was on display in the sheds post Game 2. If they are to win, he will be a major contributor to the result with his kicking, general direction and leadership. For the Blues, James Tedesco was just edged out in Game 2 by Nathan Cleary ($7.50) and can consider himself unlucky. He was everywhere and has taken the captaincy of NSW to another level. Much like DCE and the Maroons, if the Blues are to win, their captain will have a large say in the outcome.
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