New South Wales’ Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell were found dead in crosses as the Blues crushed the Queensland Maroons 50-6 in Home State’s opener.
The Blues weren’t fazed by a mostly brown crowd of 27,533 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville – where the game took place moved MCG after a Covid-imposed lockdown in Melbourne – as Trbojevic scored a hat-trick and Mitchell a brace in their biggest Origin win.
The game was much more of a showdown starting with a penalty goal being the only points in the first 15 minutes. Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans gave the penalty for an escort that prevented Trbojevic from participating in a kick return.
Fifteen minutes later, the Blues stepped up a gear as Latrell Mitchell charged 40 yards down the left side, before Trbojevic won the evening’s first down a minute later.
“Turbo Tom” was destructive everywhere, managing to cover both sides of the court and several roles throughout. However, he had proven to be too destructive at one point, accidentally causing a cut to the cheek of teammate Nathan Cleary with an unlucky elbow.
A bloodied Cleary would not leave the field until much later in the first half, to come back patched up in the second half. New South Wales then had a comfortable lead thanks to one of their three debutants Brian To’o.
To’o scored twice from the left corner in the span of five minutes, the latter on a long desperate discharge from Tariq Sims.
Queensland would find the line before half-time with Kurt Capewell rushing to their left edge, but from there the Blues turned the stadium into a slaughterhouse.
Mitchell’s first try kicked off the second-half beating, with the South Sydney star darting on a grubber kick from Trbojevic.
From there, the Queensland defense completely collapsed as the Blues crammed together try after try. The Maroons weren’t helped by the loss of starting pillar Christian Welch to an early head clash, while David Fifita also had to be checked for a head injury after a blow in the first half.
One of the main defensive issues that cost the Maroons was the inability to cover the holes in their line. The Blues broke through nine times in the game while Queensland only managed one line break.
Mitchell continued his meteoric form into the second half. He first prepared for Turbo’s second try before scoring another of his own after Queensland winger Xavier Coates missed a kick return.
Daniel Saifiti crashed down the middle to score one before Turbo ended his hat trick on a deceptive pass from James Tedesco with 12 minutes to spare.
The result is a blow to the Queensland Shield defense campaign, and coach Paul Green will be wondering how the Maroons can recover after a disastrous first game in the job.
He has time – there are two and a half weeks left until Game 2 of the series, in which other rounds of the NRL season will have been played and some previously unavailable stars are expected to return from injuries and suspensions.
The second match will take place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday, June 27 Australian time. Until then, attention turns back to club play with Round 14 of the NRL in progress this weekend.
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