New South Wales Blues have taken the upper hand in the 2017 State of Origin series after running rampant en route to a 28-4 win over bitter rivals Queensland Maroons at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
James Maloney scored early to set the Blues on the path to victory, and Mitchell Pearce extended their lead before half-time, but tries from James Tedesco, Andrew Fifita and Jarryd Hayne opened the floodgates in the second period, per the National Rugby League.
Corey Oates grabbed Queensland’s only try of the game in what was a one-sided defeat for the reigning State of Origin champions, who now face a fight to respond to this loss in Game 2.
The two teams will recommence this year’s three-part war at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, June 21, when NSW will be looking to consolidate their first State of Origin win since 2014 on home soil.
With Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston absent from Wednesday’s clash due to a shoulder injury, the Blues knew this would be a rare chance to face the Maroons without their constant staple of the past decade and more.
Anthony Milford, 22, started at five-eighth and immediately felt the pressure when Fifita flew through enemy lines almost unopposed to slide in for Game 1’s opening score, via the official National Rugby League.
Queensland bided their time and got on the board when Oates collected Cooper Cronk’s inch-perfect kick before bundling over, and Fox Sports host Warren Smith was in awe of the creation, as opposed to the finish.
The Maroons’ ecstasy didn’t last long, though, and after clawing back to 6-4, Pearce showed support nous to get on the end of Fifita’s rampage down the left. Maloney, who converted four of his team’s five tries on the day, gave a hopeful prediction of things to come as NSW went in 12-4 leaders at the break, via Wide World of Sports.
If Queensland had managed to keep things close in the first half, the second period was a major disappointment in comparison, and an eight-minute nightmare essentially ended their hopes of taking Game 1.
Coach Laurie Daley’s Blues stormed out after the restart reinvigorated to increase their lead, and it wasn’t long before man-of-the-match contender Tedesco blazed over the line to open their second-half account in the 52nd minute.
Maloney’s third conversion of the day pushed their lead to 18-4, and only minutes later, Queensland’s dire display was encapsulated as Fifita picked up a spilled ball in front of the Maroons’ line to go over for one of the easiest tries he’ll ever score.
Tedesco was also crucial in preventing a couple of Queensland chances right at the death thanks to a pair of heroic tackles near the line, and although the Maroons challenged, it proved to be all huff and very little puff.
Thurston’s potential return for Game 2 will give Queensland some hope of turning this series around in three weeks’ time, although there appears to be some fundamental issues in need of addressing within the Maroons camp.