New South Wales and Queensland are ready to do battle for the 2013 State of Origin Championship. Finely-perched at 1-1 after the first two encounters, Game 3 promises to produce an action-packed finale to a fiercely-contested series.
We’ve seen important early tries, vital individual performances and enough hard-hitting contact to satisfy the angriest of rugby league fans. Punches have been thrown, chances blown and at the final whistle of Game 3, one team will lift the famous shield aloft to the delight of their fans.
New South Wales has the chance to claim their first State of Origin victory since 2005, but can Laurie Daley’s team provide another definitive defensive display in front of a capacity crowd of 83,000 at the ANZ Stadium?
Let’s breakdown the last-minute betting odds and predictions to consider exactly that.
All odds are courtesy of Skybet and correct as of July 16. Although they may be subject to change in the final build-up to Game 3, the numbers offer useful insight as to where the money lies.
Those looking to back a particular winner will struggle to receive a decent payout unless plenty of cash is placed down. Queensland is a narrow favourite for this one after a convincing 26-6 win in Game 2, but the bookmakers believe New South Wales' home win over the Maroons could also see them triumph.
Which player will have the greatest impact in Game 3?
The Blues have already picked up a 14-6 victory at the ANZ Stadium this series and will be striving to challenge in front of a packed home crowd. Those unwilling to choose an outright winner may be tempted to select a draw, which offers intriguing value at 20/1.
Considering the winning margins we have already seen this series, the bookmakers have offered decent odds on both sides replicating their previous distances of victory once again. The Blues defensive line must manhandle a Maroons attack that is bustling with power and speed if they are to force Queensland into repeating their feeble Game 1 score; a feat that is rather unlikely after Game 2.
With confidence restored in the Canetoads camp, Queensland's Game 2 victory margin of 20 is a prosperous bet at 9/1. Darius Boyd has scored the first Maroons try in both games and offers value as first overall try scorer at 10/1. Michael Jennings totted up New South Wales' second try during the Game 1 victory, and in the absence of the injured Jarryd Hayne, is an excellent gamble at 14/1.
Take a look at an assorted list of odds below:
Match Result—New South Wales 6/4, Queensland 8/13, Draw 20/1.
Man of the Match—Michael Jennings (New South Wales) 50/1, Cooper Cronk (Queensland) 8/1.
Winning Margin—6-10 New South Wales 15/2, 16-20 Queensland 9/1.
First Scoring Play—New South Wales Penalty Kick 12/1, Queensland Penalty Kick 9/1.
First Try—Michael Jennings (New South Wales) 14/1, Darius Boyd (Queensland) 10/1.
No Try scorer—250/1.
The is Queensland's series to lose.
Mal Meninga's men disappointed in Game 1, but did extremely well to brush away the cobwebs with a dominant display in Game 2. The 26-6 victory was the Maroons' largest margin of victory since 2010's corresponding game, and that game ushered in thoughts of an eighth successive State of Origin celebration.
Darius Boyd's importance continues to grow. His running skills and link-play with Greg Inglis put the Blues under pressure that was non-existent in the first clash. Boyd has three tries in two appearances this series and will have the legs to cause havoc once more.
To make matters worse for the Blues, Hayne's injury and Nathan Merritt's poor performance in Game 2 ensures Daley must reshuffle his pack. James McManus will end a four-year hiatus to tackle the threat of Boyd and Inglis, as reported by The Daily Telegraph. Merritt's lack of positional awareness exposed New South Wales throughout Game 2, and forces the coach to sacrifice him after just one State of Origin appearance.
Even so, this won't be enough for the home side. Robbie Farah, Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney kicked terribly throughout the second contest and will need to improve massively if the home crowd is to leave in a jubilant mood. The Blues' back five struggled to contain the likes of Boyd, Inglis and Johnathan Thurston. These three will be the creative trio to confirm a series comeback victory for the Maroons.