The NSW Blues were given a clear warning before Cameron Munster and Lindsay Collins showcased their talents in Game 1 of the State of Origin series. While the focus of Origin camps is typically on building team chemistry, it has become apparent that the technical aspects of the game can play a significant role in determining the outcome. Queensland coach Billy Slater wasted no time in game one, executing a trick play that nearly caught NSW off guard. The Maroons utilized a series of set plays throughout the first half to confuse their opponents and score tries. These plays often occurred after a stoppage in play or a Blues error, indicating Queensland’s ability to capitalize on these situations.
NSW prop Payne Haas acknowledged the need for improved discipline, stating, “Hopefully we can fix that discipline a bit because we got penalised early on in that game.” The Blues must be prepared for Queensland’s set plays in order to avoid similar situations in Game 2 at Suncorp Stadium.
One tactic that caught NSW off guard early in game one was a move from a penalty restart, where the centre passed the ball to the back-rower who attempted to gain meters. However, Queensland surprised everyone by executing a unique play only six minutes into the game. Centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow appeared as if he would pass the ball to David Fifita, but instead, hooker Ben Hunt received the pass on the inside while winger Murray Taulagi moved back onside. The Blues were caught off guard, and it was only Nathan Cleary‘s ankle tap that prevented a spectacular try. NSW back-rower Tyson Frizell emphasized the importance of awareness and the need to anticipate potential plays from the Maroons.
Queensland’s first points of the game came from a sublime set play following the penalty restart. After stopping Ben Hunt‘s momentum, the Blues found themselves under pressure as David Fifita charged towards the try line. This forced fullback James Tedesco to assist in the tackle. Taking advantage of Tedesco’s positioning, the Maroons executed a last-tackle play with Daly Cherry-Evans lining up on the right side and Hunt focusing his attention on his halfback. Tedesco was deceived, allowing Tabuai-Fidow to score the first points of the match. What started as an attempt to exploit the Blues’ halfback ended with the Maroons fooling the fullback and gaining an advantage.
Moving the ball wide to make ground has been a trademark of Slater’s Maroons teams. While wet conditions limited expansive play in Adelaide, Queensland still managed to make significant ground early in the game. Their fast fullback, Reece Walsh, posed a threat to the Blues’ defense, often forcing them to scramble. Although not every attempt was successful, with Tabuai-Fidow being pushed into touch on one occasion, the Maroons eventually found success. Munster’s match-winning try came from a long shift inside their own territory, taking advantage of the Blues’ vulnerable position with only 12 men on the field. Notably, most of Queensland’s early attempts to move the ball wide occurred on the second play of the set.
Queensland’s strategic kicking game was primarily focused on the channel between Brian To’o and Tedesco in the first half, before later shifting towards Josh Addo-Carr in the second half. However, if it weren’t for Tedesco’s quick thinking, a risky tactic of kicking from a scrum may have paid off for the Maroons. With only 10 seconds left in the first half, Queensland set up a formation that caught the Blues’ attention. They positioned four players in a semi-rhombus formation to the left, while NSW had three defenders on that side. Munster appeared poised to find one of his runners at the back of the formation, but instead, he kicked instantly to Tabuai-Fidow. Tedesco, who was positioned at the scrum, reacted swiftly and shut down the play. Queensland also attempted an early kick in the second half, with Cherry-Evans successfully executing a 40-20.
Awareness and readiness will be key for the Blues in Game 2. They must improve their discipline, prepare for Queensland’s set plays, and anticipate trick plays and strategic kicks. By doing so, they can increase their chances of securing a victory at Suncorp Stadium.