Maroon mauling: QLD need the heart of Artie
Queensland must summon the spirit of Arthur Beetson to complete a Mission Impossible series victory after a resurgent NSW belted the Maroons 34-10 to set-up a Suncorp decider next Wednesday night.
Origin will celebrate its 40th anniversary since Beetson ran onto Lang Park in 1980 and the Maroons will need the heart of Artie to fight back in Game Three after suffering a Homebush hatchet job engineered by besieged NSW halfback Nathan Cleary.
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Just seven days after their Blues boilover in Adelaide, it was a night to forget for the Maroons, whose hopes of a famous series victory suffered a body blow the moment star pivot Cameron Munster was concussed in the second minute.
The sight of a dazed Munster leaving the field, never to return, was an unfortunate metaphor for a Queensland side that was punch-drunk and off the pace from the outset as NSW ran riot in midfield in a six-tries-to-two rout.
Queensland opened the scoring via Xavier Coates in the eighth minute but without Munster, the Maroons were outclassed by the glitzy NSW playmaking spine of Cleary, James Tedesco, Damien Cook and Cody Walker.
Gone in 120 seconds. That was the worrying sentiment for the Maroons when the loss of gun playmaker Munster so early in the contest turned Queensland's game plan on its head.
It all seemed so innocuous. Munster trailed back into the in-goal to defuse a high kick, only to have his head slammed into the turf as he caught the ball.
When he was ruled out in the 15th minute, it was a hammer blow to Queensland's playmaking structures.
Utility Ben Hunt, thrust into the halves with skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, was badly exposed in defence, missing three tackles in consecutive NSW tries as the Blues charged to an 18-4 halftime lead.
Queensland's forwards were belted in midfield. The Maroons' big boppers were heroic in Origin I but in the return bout, they were outmuscled and beaten to the punch by NSW's hungry hulks Payne Haas, Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown.
Rookie Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (108m) was the only Maroons forward to post 100 metres as the Blues stormed the midfield. Queensland's forward spiritual leader, Josh Papalii, was restricted to just 72 metres.
A spicy Origin rivalry has been born between Maroons monster Fa'asuamaleaui and NSW rival Haas.
Big Tino sledged Haas in an under-18s Origin game at ANZ three years ago and now the pair are at it again, both sin-binned in the 57th minute for throwing punches and sparking a minor melee.
It sparked a brief Queensland riposte - Papalii crashed over five minutes later - but at 28-10, the Maroons had too much ground to make up.
Dubbed 'Little Greg Inglis', Maroons tyro Coates showed why he is an NRL superstar in the making.
NSW's rampant victory took the gloss off Coates' opening try, which deserves to be remembered among the greatest finishing efforts in Origin's 40-year history.
In just his second Origin game, the 19-year-old showed the dexterity of an Olympic gymnast, sensationally leaping for the tryline, using every inch of his 194cm frame to touch down as he somersaulted into the in-goal. It was magnificent.
Queensland winger Phillip Sami is in danger of being axed after a woeful display. Sami lacked urgency on kick returns and was exposed when Josh Addo-Carr sneaked past him to plunge the dagger for 34-10 in the 67th minute.
Queensland's numbering-up in defence was also abysmal, with the Blues twice scoring with a four-on-three overlap from set pieces at the scrum.
Queensland can't afford to be so defensively sloppy in the decider ... or it will be Blue Murder.
Originally published as Maroon mauling: QLD need the heart of Artie