The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues have kicked off the 2021 Ampol State of Origin series with a clinical 50-6 win over the Maroons at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
The dominant 44-point victory also marked a record winning margin for NSW in State of Origin, their biggest since Game Three, 2000.
The two sides traded sets for the opening seven minutes before Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster kicked the ball dead in-goal to give the Blues a 20-metre restart.
The ensuing set saw NSW get their first opportunity in the attacking half, earning a penalty next to the left upright on the last tackle after an escort from Daly Cherry-Evans on Tom Trbojevic. Nathan Cleary kicked a successful penalty to give the Blues a two-point lead.
Not before long it was Trbojevic causing more havoc on the Queensland line, latching onto the ball on right edge and sliding in for the opening try in the 17th minute.
The following ten-minute period had another NSW outside back in debutant Brian To’o making his mark on the contest, scoring a quickfire double untouched in the left corner.
Later on in the half, both sides had players leave the field – Queensland losing Christian Welch for the match with a failed HIA, followed by the Blues taking off Cleary momentarily to repair a cut under the eye from friendly fire in the lead-up to the first To’o try.
The Maroons needed to be next to on the scoresheet before the halftime break and did exactly that when Kurt Capewell used his footwork to score the first points for Paul Green’s side. Valentine Holmes added the two points to bring the score to 20-6.
The score-line remained until the halftime whistle as NSW took a 14-point advantage into the sheds. Cleary kicked four from four off the boot at that stage, including three from the sideline to help the Blues to a strong lead after 40 minutes.
NSW began to put the foot down in the second half as they started to take advantage of the fast Townsville track with expansive football.
The early part of the half saw some old school centre play with Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic combining for consecutive tries. Mitchell first dived onto a left-footed grubber from his centre partner, before Trbojevic caught onto Mitchell’s pass in open space for his second.
The points continued to flow from then on as Mitchell also claimed his second, Daniel Saifiti muscled over for a try, and Trbojevic crossed for a hat-trick and a sixth four-pointer from his past three Origin appearances. Halfback Cleary also maintained his 100% conversion rate for the match with nine goals.
As well as contributing to numerous point scoring opportunities, the dangerous NSW back-five dominated the yardage with all five surpassing the 100-metre mark and combining for a total of 913 metres.
Front-rower Payne Haas also had a huge impact from the bench when he came on after 21 minutes, playing out the remainder of the contest, running for 132 metres including 59 post-contact, and making 33 tackles with zero missed.
Less than seven months on from last year’s decider, Brad Fittler’s men can take absolute confidence from their emphatic victory in Townsville before heading into Game Two with an opportunity to win back the Shield at Queensland’s home of Suncorp Stadium.