New South Wales looks to clinch its first State of Origin series victory since 2005 after scoring a 14-6 win over Queensland in Game 1. The series shifts to Brisbane for Game 2 and Maroons hope to send it to a deciding third contest with a home triumph.
The Blues last won the series' first game in 2008. Queensland responded with a 30-0 blowout in the second game and carried that momentum to another series victory. New South Wales must avoid a similar performance this time around.
Queensland will lean on the fact it wasn't anywhere near its best in Game 1. The Maroons missed several opportunities in the first half of that match. They should return to form in the second meeting, which means the Blues must elevate their game, as well.
New South Wales is desperate to end its seven-year drought in the series. Queensland wants to extend its reign of dominance over its rival. Knowing that, let's take a look at all the key information for a crucial Game 2, followed by a preview and prediction.
Where: Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia
When: Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 a.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
The biggest key for New South Wales is getting off to another quick start. Jarryd Hayne scored the first try just five minutes into Game 1 and the Blues rolled from there. The fact they are on the road makes the early portion of the match even more important.
One moment that stood out in the opening clash was an encounter between Blues captain Paul Gallen and the Maroons' Nate Myles. Gallen landed a couple heavy shots and set a physical tone that his side maintained defensively.
In the end, it was that extraordinary effort on defense which sparked the win. Every time it appeared Queensland was about to mount a comeback, the Blues would stand tall to ensure they didn't let the lead slip away.
Along with Gallen, the two other key players for New South Wales will be returning fullback Josh Dugan and Game 1 standout Michael Jennings.
Dugan replaces Hayne, but the drop off should be minimal. He's a powerful force capable of carrying the Blues to a drought-ending victory. Expect him to get heavily involved early as his side attempts to set a tone, something that didn't happen in the aforementioned 2008 blowout loss.
Jennings was terrific in the opener. He had several noteworthy individual runs, often carrying multiple defenders on his back. Another performance like that from him, or another unsung hero, is necessary for New South Wales to clinch the series.
As for Queensland, everything starts with Billy Slater. The veteran does everything a team could want from a fullback, including jump-starting the offense with kick returns. How he performs will go a long way in deciding Game 2.
The one area where the Maroons should have an advantage is depth. They have more players capable of making a significant impact. Whether it's Slater, Myles, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith or a host of others, the talent is definitely in place to complete another series comeback.
They must display far better form than they did in the first half of Game 1, though. Too many missed chances allowed New South Wales to build its lead and the Maroons didn't make enough plays to mount a serious challenge.
Ultimately, that depth paired with playing at home and the knowledge that a loss ends the streak should be enough to push Queensland to a Game 2 victory. It won't be on the same scale as the big win in 2008, but a key triumph nevertheless.
And then the focus would shift to the deciding third game next month.
Prediction: Queensland 18, New South Wales 12