New South Wales have produced back-to-back maulings of Queensland to snatch back rugby league’s State of Origin shield and put them on track for the most one-sided series win in history.
The Blues cast aside an extraordinary build-up to Sunday’s clash at Suncorp Stadium, their backline again running rings around the Maroons in a 26-0 victory on Sunday night.
Josh Addo-Carr scored twice, Tom Trbojevic once, captain James Tedesco was instrumental at fullback while a Latrell Mitchell intercept try was one of several big first-half plays that set the tone.
It was the first time Queensland have been held scoreless in Brisbane and followed a record 50-6 thrashing of Paul Green’s men in Townsville.
Now a cumulative scoreline of 76-6 leaves Brad Fittler’s side with wiggle room in July 14’s third game to eclipse the previous-best 62-point differential NSW accrued in a 3-0 series victory in 2000.
A last-minute injury to much-hyped Maroons debutant Reece Walsh on Saturday was quickly trumped by the eligibility concerns that saw his replacement Ronaldo Mulitalo withdrawn on game-day.
It certainly did not bother the Blues though as they weathered an intense first 10 minutes then exploited a tiring Maroons pack who weren’t helped by their disjointed backline.
NSW scored three tries and bombed another in a decisive 21-minute period to blow Queensland away then desperately snuffed out the Maroons’ best efforts when their own offence dried up in the second half.
The Maroons looked lost when they did get a peek at the Blues’ line, their attack clunky and slow as halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster struggled to create.
It cost them too, Valentine Holmes pushing a pass that found the left fingertips of Mitchell, who raced almost 90 metres for a 12-0 lead.
It was Mitchell’s third big play of an influential first half, the centre dragging Holmes back in goal to earn a repeat set and stripping Kyle Feldt in a play that led to Addo-Carr’s first try.
With Queensland’s exhausted forwards out on their feet or already benched, the floodgates were completely opened when Addo-Carr again streaked clear after 32 minutes.
He found Trbojevic for an 18-0 lead, Cameron Murray blowing another golden chance in a one-sided first half.
In for the injured Harry Grant at hooker for Queensland, Andrew McCullough was replaced by Ben Hunt just before halftime while centre Dane Gagai missed seven first-half tackles.
A long-range Blues try was called back for a technicality before Coates, who only joined the team eight hours before kick-off, had the ball knocked from his outstretched hand by Trbojevic as he dived for the corner.
Addo-Carr’s second try sparked wild celebrations with 10 minutes to go, his four-pointer coming after Kyle Feldt’s goal-line drop-out was penalised for going barely one metre forward.