Monday 1 June 2009

2009 State of Origin Game One Preview: NSW v QLD

The wait is almost over, on Wednesday Night in Melbourne, Queensland and New South Wales will do battle in State of Origin I to kick-off the 2009 Series. The Maroons are looking to make it four straight series victories, while the Blues will be trying to end the streak at three and restore order to the code. Here's a preview of Game One. The SQUADS (Full list and player profiles HERE): QUEENSLAND MAROONS - GAME I 2009 VERSUS NEW SOUTH WALES BLUES - GAME I 2009 GAME ONE PREVIEW: NSW have finally been adventurous and tried something different with the makeup of their team and will try and fight fire with fire out wide. The additions of Jennings, Farah, Campese in particular should excite all Blues supporters and give those cocky Maroon types far more concerns than the likes of Quinn, Tuner, Monaghan, Cooper (albeit still a great defender) and McManus... oh wait - he's playing. Still NSW have rolled the dice with some genuine attacking players and if Peter Wallace doesn't get in the way Farah and Campese in particular could combine beautifully with Jennings, Hayne, Gidley and Lyon in attack. Up front I see a bit of a stalemate ensuing as QLD has the edge in their starting props but NSW hold the edge in the backrow. The hookers are both quality players and should have a terrific battle. So in terms of the ruck - both sides should contain the other - which is where Origin can truly produce a great game as the respective backlines and playmakers can run do their thing and enthrall the crowd and TV audience with a classic. And given the talent in the Queensland backline and the rookie spark of their NSW counterparts - we could have a corker on our hands Wednesday night in Melbourne. If the conditions are good that is... the game is being played in Melbourne. Although Sydneysiders can't talk too much of late given the rain of the past month. Game One should always be the hardest to pick based on the simple fact that each team is somewhat different to the one that represented their state the year before and if there are carry over players - form isn't always carried over. Queensland deserve favouritism given the backline combination and their starting front row remains in tact for Game One but the game could turn on how much ball Farah and Campese get to work with and how little Wallace gets in the way. I'll admit I'm a New South Welshman through and through and after three straight years of Maroon victory laps - I'll be tipping the Blues in this one, as we strive to win the series for the first time since 2005. HOW THE GAME WILL PLAY OUT: I see the game being a see-sawing affair with QLD taking the lead early thanks to Israel Folau leaping high for a Thurston cross kick in the 8th minute, NSW bouncing back with two straight tries to Ben Creagh and Terry Campese on the edges but QLD to score 5mins before halftime through a Lockyer-Hodges-Slater combination and take a 12-10 lead into the break. QLD will extend that lead to 18-10 with 30mins to go when Cameron Smith barges over from dummy half but NSW will strike twice to win - the first to James McManus off a Peter Wallace cross kick (his 36th of the night) - and the last try off a Robbie Farah grubber near the line for Michael Jennings in the final 10 minutes. Farah to be the star alongside Campese and Luke O'Donnell. Best for QLD will be Hodges, Smith and Civoniceva. PICK THE SCORE: NSW 22 def. QLD 18 (HT: QLD 12-10) FIRST TRYSCORER: Who else... Israel Folau, QLD. LAST TRYSCORER: Michael Jennings, NSW. MAN OF THE MATCH: Robbie Farah, NSW. GO NEW SOUTH WALES!
For the record: NSW to win Series 2-1.