Turbo-charged Blues set up thrilling Origin decider
NSW are 80 minutes away from claiming their first back-to-back State of Origin series since 2005 after a Tom Trbojevic treble embarrassed Queensland on a historic night in Perth.
On WA's first-ever Origin stage, NSW crushed, conquered and clobbered arrogant Queensland to send this series to a blockbusting decider in Sydney.
Sunday night's match was a titanic triumph for the Blues and Origin football in rugby league-starved Perth.
Maybe now Queensland coach Kevin Walters will acknowledge and utter those three unspeakable words - New South Wales.
Aware they could have lost the series in Perth, NSW played under excruciating pressure - and they thrived in a 38-6 belting.
The massive contingent of Blues fans cheered loudly, proudly and wildly each time NSW players returned after a try to the airport end of Optus Stadium in the second half.
Origin's July 10 decider at ANZ Stadium will now be an 83,500 sell out.
"Our focus is now game three in Sydney - can't wait," said NSW skipper Boyd Cordner.
Victory was a personal triumph for NSW coach Brad Fittler, who made seven changes from the side beaten in game one.
Led by a three-try performance from Manly's Tom Trbojevic, a two-try effort by winger Josh Addo-Carr and a scintillating performance from fullback James Tedesco, NSW ran riot.
The Fox ran for 227 metres, Tedesco 186 metres. This was six tries to one. It was Perth poetry.
The only downside to the win was halfback Nathan Cleary failing to return after halftime with an ankle injury. Ever-reliable Wade Graham played in the halves.
Last night's match attracted a record Optus Stadium crowd of 59,721.
Driving and swirling rain hit midway through the first half. A few scarpered for cover most of rugby league's new true believers in Perth didn't care.
The large crowd was segregated - one end all blue, the other a wave of maroon. The noise deafening. It was among the most extraordinary nights in Origin's 39-year history.
The buzz at Optus Stadium matched if not bettered matches played in traditional Origin heartland of Sydney and Brisbane.
"Fortunately we came away with the points tonight," said Graham.
Victory was coach Brad Fittler's only way to push his critics back into their hole. Making seven changes - three enforced - from the side that lost in Brisbane proved profound.
Fittler, who coached last night from the sideline, staked his reputation on ripping apart that team that malfunctioned in Brisbane - and it may be a defining moment in his Origin coaching career.
It was courageous, gutsy and victorious.
Before kick-off, Fittler made three cosmetic alterations by starting Jake Trbojevic at prop, Dale Finucane at lock with Paul Vaughan coming off the bench. That too was a masterstroke.
After years of arrogance and cockiness, it's nice to see some anxiety and alarm in Queensland's camp. Let's see whether they retain their famous 'pick and stick' policy.
Queensland is now just 80 minutes from losing successive series to NSW. Now they know what we endured for a decade.
"The best thing is we get another chance," said Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
There must a thin yet increasing layer of sweat appearing on the forehead of a nervous Walters. Queensland couldn't even benefit from a dubious first half penalty try.
"It hasn't been Queensland's greatest night," said former Maroons legend, Paul Vautin.
Cricket legend Adam Gilchrist appeared in the middle of Optus Stadium and told the crowd pre-game: "Queensland never give up."
Well, they did in Perth.
This was vintage Jimmy. He had two try assists inside the opening 20 minutes - one from a kick, the other a pass. He also forced a repeat set from his first kick.
But balancing the ledge was a forward pass off a drop out and then another forward pass to unmarked winger Josh Addo Carr, who crossed untouched.
Maloney kicked a 40/20 in an eventful first half. That's what you get with Jimmy.