Josh Addo-Carr scored two tries and the halves combination of Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker dominated as New South Wales beat Queensland 34-10 on Wednesday to level the State of Origin series and send it to a decider next week in Brisbane.
New South Wales lost the series-opening game 18-14 in Adelaide last week after taking an early 10-0 lead.
This time it was Queensland which scored early via a spectacular aerial effort from winger Xavier Coates in the right corner in the 7th minute, only for New South Wales to hit back hard and take an 18-4 lead at halftime.
Walker was recalled to start at five-eighth after missing the opener, and he made an immediate impact. He took pressure off halfback Cleary in the playmaking positions and provided a second option with his left-foot kicking in general play.
He also scored the first try for the Blues, giving the home team a lead in the 16th minute which they never surrendered. New captain James Tedesco scored in the 22nd and winger Addo-Carr crossed for his first try just before halftime.
Walker’s input was more significant considering Queensland lost five-eighth and playmaker Cameron Munster in the second minute to a head injury, leaving the Maroons attack lacking direction for most of the match.
New South Wales scored three tries to Queensland’s one in the second half, finishing with Addo-Carr’s second.
Cleary landed four conversions from six attempts and added a penalty goal for a personal haul of 10 points.
Queensland will be at home next Wednesday for the series finale.
The Origin series is usually played in June and July but has been delayed until the end of the NRL season because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All the action from State of Origin II as Queensland look to upset New South Wales again.
Queensland coach Wayne Bennett reportedly hung up on Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster after he requested more time to celebrate the NRL Grand Final victory.
Munster played a pivotal role in the Melbourne Storm’s 26-20 win over the Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium in late October.
The 26-year-old understandably took part in celebrations with the powerhouse club before joining the Queensland camp ahead of the highly-anticipated State of Origin series.
But according to Fox Sports reporter James Hooper, Munster dialled up Bennett to request an additional 24 hours to celebrate.
Bennett inevitably hung up the phone, but the pair have regardless struck up a great rapport in the weeks since, according to Hooper.
“He just backs me with what I do and gives me that licence to play what I see,” Munster said of Bennett.
“That is what you want from a coach – I’m only six foot two but it feels like I am seven foot out there at times getting coached by him.”
After winning Origin I in Adelaide last week, the Maroons can clinch their first Origin title since 2017 at ANZ Stadium tonight.
On Sunday, Munster slammed “disrespectful” reporting in the media that Queensland had the worst Maroons side in history.
“I don’t really read too much in the media, but I guess that’s not a great accolade to have … it’s a bit of disrespect from them,” Munster told reporters on Sunday.
“We’re in the same position we were in last year, where we won the first game and lost the last two.
“All we can do now is make our performance talk – they can talk as much as they want in the media, but for us to get a bit more back is to play well on Wednesday night.
“We’ve got no pressure on us, everyone is really doubting us and we’re the underdogs.”
Origin II kicks off at 10.10pm New Zealand time and the New South Wales Blues need a victory to keep the three-match series alive.
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