Expert match preview and best bets

State of Origin Game 2 preview from NRL pro punter Steve Green… including predicted score and suggested bets

Game 1 was a bit of a disaster for NSW. Although the final margin was only six points and NSW ended the game with a head full of steam, the Queenslanders looked like a much tougher and better prepared outfit. The Queenslanders controlled the ruck, kicked well and made the most of their opportunities.

I have heard some pundits claim that NSW dominated the match, but I do not agree. NSW made more metres, more tackle breaks and had more possession. The Blues simply failed to ice their chances and made some poor attacking choices during the middle of the match.

State of Origin Game 2: Selection

Coach Fittler seems rattled and has rung in the changes. Some of these changes are forced, however some of them look panicked. I do not think the form of Jake T or Talakai in the NRL warrants their selection in this side. But I think the inclusion of Burton, Crichton and Koroisau improved the team.

As for the Queenslanders, the only change they have made is replacing the injured Cotter and Coates with Arrow and Tulagai. They therefore come into this match looking very settled and confident. Munster, DCE, Grant, Hunt and Ponga all ooze class and are big game players, while the debutants like Nanai, Carrigan and Cobbo all showed they are up to the challenge, and guys like Val were awesome.

However, I do think there are some weaknesses in this team and I understand why the Blues are favourites here. Papalli has looked a little sluggish in recent weeks, while Kaufusi and Gagai also look like their best Origin days are behind them. Collins is a very good player, but the fact that he is starting and not coming off the bench, shows that this Queensland side is a little short on muscle and could struggle to contain the likes of Haas, Talakai and Paulo.

Critical players

I think the issue for Queensland will be who does all the work that Cotter did in Game 1. Cotter made 48 tackles and 134 metres in Game 1, smashing out an inspirational 80 minutes on debut. Arrow does not play as many minutes and is a different type of player, so Papalii is going to have to play more than the 22 minutes he was given in Game 1.

The risk for Queenland is that they lack the speed around the ruck that Cotter provides. With the Blues naming two hookers, I am expecting them to be much sharper around the ruck and this will open opportunities for guys like Tedesco and Cleary trailing the ball through the middle.

Betting markets

All in all, I think the market is generally pretty right across the board.

On my ratings, these two teams match up quite well and I think this will be another typical Origin classic. I know we did not win on the half time or full time draw bets in Game 1, but both were pretty close!

If Cleary gets his first conversion (something he normally would have), then there is a good chance that game was tied 6-6 at half time. And down by 6 points, NSW were looking like they could score a late try and give Cleary an opportunity to tie it up.

So, I stand by my assessment that the odds for a half time draw and a full time draw in Origin should be shorter than what they are. I am therefore putting forward these plays again for Game 2.

Predicted scores

NSW 18
Queensland 18

State of Origin Game 2: Suggested bets

Scores level at halftime: $7.25 with TopSport

Scores level at the end of normal time: $16 with TopSport