Cameron Munster reins in Blues rival Nathan Cleary. Picture: AAP
Cameron Munster reins in Blues rival Nathan Cleary. Picture: AAP

Maroons' halves take full control

WAS this the gamble that backfired on Brad Fittler?

Throughout the build-up so much of the pressure was directed at the NSW halves with the fear being if they could take charge when it mattered most. Unfortunately that is exactly how it worked out on Wednesday night.

You think of any Origin game and it is always the key playmakers who managed the result.

When it was NSW winning it was Freddie and Joey, Ricky and Laurie. For Queensland it was the King and Alf, Locky and after that JT and Cronk.

On Wednesday night it was Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster. When it mattered most they took the right options, and made the big plays to get Queensland back in the game and ultimately home.

At half-time Blues halfback Nathan Cleary was doing his job and doing it well when all the running was with the Blues, although Cody Walker struggled to make his usual impact in his debut Origin match.

But even when the Queenslanders were struggling, Cherry-Evans and Munster were still heavily involved.

Still making momentum shifts and finding ways to get their team a breather while under pressure.

But in the second half they went even better. Cherry-Evans and Munster lifted their team and got them into a position to come up with a victory that the Blues should have sealed.


Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Fittler was obviously not happy with Walker because he was off the field when it was still there to be won.

Yes, it was a great game of footy. And both teams played their absolute hearts out.

But you just can't ignore the fact that when the game was in the balance it was the experience of the Queensland halves that gave the Maroons the game management to get them home.

There will be questions asked on Thursday and no one is going to want to say it, but the Blues are going to have to have a rethink on the plan they took into this game because when it came under fire they just couldn't pull the momentum back.

David Klemmer's first half was just enormous. He played the entire opening 40 minutes, charging for 126m from 12 runs, more than twice as many metres as any of the Queensland forwards.

To put it in perspective, Josh McGuire led the way for the Queenslanders with 59m from seven runs, just ahead of Felise Kaufusi with seven runs for 57m and Josh Papalii with five runs for 47m.

Klemmer played big minutes in the opener. Picture: Adam Head
Klemmer played big minutes in the opener. Picture: Adam Head

It was an extraordinary effort from the big man and on the back of the Blues' go-forward Damien Cook and James Tedesco were carving them up.

It was Kevvie Walters' worst nightmare coming to reality.

All through the build-up the Maroons identified that their defence on Cook and Tedesco would be the key but they just couldn't keep up with the frenetic pace.


Josh Addo-Carr, Josh Morris and Nick Cotric were all doing their part, but Latrell Mitchell was noticeably quite, clearly not at 100 per cent with what looked to be a groin/leg injury.

At the break the possession slightly favoured Queensland, 52-42 per cent, but it was the missed tackle count that was really letting the home team down with the Maroons missing 26 tackles to NSW's 11.

But like it always does in Origin, the momentum turned, and the Blues were found wanting.

It was experience versus inexperience and it was Queensland's halves who owned the result.