Thursday 17 August 2017 / 04:52 AM

SIX UP THE MIDDLE: HOW QLD CAN WIN GAME 2

After a total capitulation in the series opener, the Maroons’ series hopes rest on upsetting the Blues in Sydney. Here is how they can do it.

Aggression

The Blues annihilated the Maroons through the middle in the series opener with hard running and excellent angles. They equally tackled in numbers and were willing to put shots on. Queensland were too one-paced in their response. The selections of Coen Hess, Jarrod Wallace and Gavin Cooper were all made to boost the Maroons’ aggression.

Rucking Out

NSW did a strong job in the first game of pinning Queensland into their corners by bombing shallow to Corey Oates. It negated Oates strong ruck work and having no Billy Slater left the Maroons on the back foot in nearly every set. Oates was surprisingly dropped, so the pressure will be on Slater and debutant Valentine Holmes to get Queensland going early.

Kicking

The hallmark of Queensland teams over the last decade above all else has been a reliable deep kicking game that has kept NSW on the hop early in sets. Cooper Cronk was solid in the opener without being spectacular. The return of Johnathan Thurston should see the Maroons’ kicking game improve.

Target Mitchell Pearce

For all the positives NSW took out of Origin I, Mitchell Pearce’s return to the fold hardly impressed. Pearce scored a try but his kicking game was tentative before he was knocked senseless. Queensland will rightly still view him as a mentally fragile weak link.

Faster Line Speed

Queensland were found severely wanting with their line speed in the opener. When the Blues got a roll on, they gashed the Maroons time and time again. If NSW are given the same space to work again they will towel Queensland by an even bigger margin.

Create Second-Phase Play

In Origin I, much of the Blues’ success came off the back of some outstanding offloads, primarily from man-of-the-match Andrew Fifita. The Blues go into the match with seven players who have 12 or more offloads this year. The Maroons have just two. They need to find a way to create second-phase play.

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About the author

Nick Tedeschi

You will not find a more passionate rugby league man than Nick, whose Making The Nut column has garnered a huge cult following over the last decade. The Sydney-based raconteur co-authored The Book of NRL Lists with CBS stablemate WILL EVANS in 2014 and has penned several other books; he joined the CBS team with his weekly Six Up The Middle feature in 2016.

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