Cameron Munster and the Maroons celebrate back to back series win. (Image: QRL)

The Maroons claim the series with a 32-6 win over the Blues in Brisbane. The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the five most important takeaways from game two.

Following their game one victory in Adelaide, the Maroons continued playing with confidence in front of a massive crowd at Suncorp Stadium.

The maximisation of Queensland’s different talents

Daly Cherry-Evans played an incredible game, with his kicking game and try-saving effort in the first half, encapsulating his performance. He also created plays for his teammates allowing guys like Walsh and Valentine Holmes to play on the back of it and torched New South Wales’ edges.

Holmes scored two tries, putting more pressure on the Blues to respond throughout the course of the game.

Front-rower Lindsay Collins was moved to the bench, but he set the tone and enforced his dominance on the field with his carries, having 135 metres, which crowned saw him the Player of the Match.

Playing a dummy half at centre

In the opening three minutes of the game, Tom Trbojevic went down with a torn pectoral injury, which caused the Blues to have a massive shuffle in their line.

It is believed at this stage, Trbojevic could be out for the remainder of the season.

Brad Fittler decided to sub Trbojevic for Damien Cook to play left centre and shuffle Stephen Crichton back to the right edge centre.

According to Fittler post-game, that was planned during the camp leading up to the game.

Although Cook scored in the 57th minute, the non-existence of utility depth for the Blues was exposed, which led the Maroons to have a lot of success targeting the new combination multiple times.

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Disjointed NSW attack

Despite having numerous opportunities to score points, New South Wales struggled with its attacking play.

Backline moves often ended in errors, with the ball going out of bounds or players being tackled on the last play. This lack of fluidity and cohesion hindered the Blues’ ability to generate scoring opportunities.

A lot of miscommunication and not understanding assignments really cost opportunities that if maximised and scoring was generated, could have kept the momentum in NSW’s favour.

The Blues enjoyed 54 per cent of possession and ran for more metres as a team, but made just two line breaks to the Maroon’s seven.

Although dominated by a Queensland masterclass, Payne Haas was huge for the Blues side.

Haas was quiet in this game, not making a bigger impact in the way we have seen him in the past, and yet, he still carried the ball for 141 metres and made 41 tackles with just one miss.

Missed Opportunities

The Blues had several chances to score points and regain momentum. However, they failed to capitalise on opportunities, with backline moves often ending in errors or unsuccessful plays.

The Stephen Crichton intercept in the first half almost turned into an easy four points, however, Daly Cherry-Evans made an impressive defensive play stopping Crichton from scoring.

After that, the Blues struggled to put pressure on the backfoot Maroons, especially on their middle and right edge defence.

The set finished in a failed scoring opportunity and the Maroons drove up the field for more territory that kept the Blues from executing their set plays.

The inability to convert promising situations into points ultimately hindered New South Wales’ chances of staging a comeback.

The difference Reece Walsh makes

In his second State of Origin appearance, Walsh not only showcased improvement from his debut but also made a significant impact on the game. 

Walsh was involved in setting up tries and displayed skill and composure in his play, including a long-range break that led to Valentine Holmes’ second try.

Reece Walsh took his game to another level in game two, he was able to always find a way to keep running every time he touched the ball, no matter where he was on the field.

By the end of the night, the 20-year-old finished with two try assists, two line-break assists, a line-break himself, and 120 running metres.

The fullback’s contribution has been instrumental in Queensland’s success this series, even after concerns when Billy Slater dropped Kalyn Ponga ahead of the series.

The footy IQ Walsh possesses allows him to take the Maroons to play into the red zone comfortably, delivering crucial passes with his vision and evolving his decision-making, making intelligent choices when under pressure.

Despite the high-pressure nature of the State of Origin series, Walsh displayed remarkable confidence and composure throughout the match. He seemed unfazed by the magnitude of the occasion and played with maturity beyond his years.

Walsh’s emergence as a standout player in the State of Origin series is indicative of a promising future ahead.

The skill set, confidence, and ability he has to influence the game make him an exciting prospect to watch in the Origin arena for years to come.

Game three will take place on Wednesday, July 12 at Accor Stadium in Sydney at 8:05 pm, where the Maroons will have the chance to complete the 3-0 sweep, which they have not done in 13 years.

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