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Flawless Maroons keep Origin dream alive

Maroons win
Queensland strongman Sam Thaiday points to the sky having led the Maroons to a dominant series-equalling win in Origin II at Suncorp Stadium. Source: Getty Images
IT was a night of flawless football and fireworks. A night when State of Origin was reduced to 11-a-side for a fleeting 10 minutes.

A night when Queensland showed once again why Suncorp Stadium is such a feared place for visiting NSW sides.

And finally, a night when the Maroons kept alive their hopes of extending NSW's misery into an eighth year.

Queensland set up victory in Origin II with an opening onslaught unlike any other in recent memory. By the midway point of the opening half, NSW had been forced to make 108 tackles, Queensland had made only 31. NSW had made four errors, Queensland none.

The Maroons had scored two tries and 14 points. NSW was tryless, pointless and in a hole they were unable to dig themselves out of. There was a familiar feeling to it all.

For the fifth time in succession, Queensland had swamped the Blues at Suncorp Stadium. The faithful, more than 50,000 of them, lapped it up.
The challenge now is to go back to ANZ Stadium and carry that form into the decider. The momentum is with the Maroons.

The mastermind behind the win was five-eighth Johnathan Thurston. Unusually quiet in Origin I, there was no containing him in game two.

NSW's best hope of taking Thurston out of the game arrived on match eve when he was rushed to hospital with a stomach complaint.

Much to the Blues' chagrin, he took his place and masterminded two tries to winger Darius Boyd. Only six players in the NSW side had ever won a game at Suncorp Stadium and it quickly became apparent that number wouldn't change as the Maroons produced a flawless burst of football to open the match.

Queensland's dominant start to the game extended into the opening minutes of the second half. It took only eight minutes for the Maroons to turn their 14-point advantage into 18 as Boyd crossed for his second, again thanks to the brilliance of Thurston.

Queensland's attack had been dynamic but the pyrotechnics were still to come. The NRL had warned any players involved in fighting would be sent to the sin bin and they were true to their word as the respective sides were reduced to 11 men after a mass brawl in the 56th minute.

Brent Tate pushed Paul Gallen, Trent Merrin took offence and bodies flew in from all directions. When the dust was cleared, Merrin and Greg Bird were given 10 minutes to cool their heels.

Tate and Justin Hodges followed them.

Tate and Bird claimed neither had thrown a single punch.

A soccer game had broken out - it was 11 on 11. Queensland was the first to take advantage of the reduced numbers and it was the brilliant Inglis who flew high to take a Cooper Cronk bomb. The Maroons were leading 24-0.

For the Blues, it was merely a case of damage control as they looked ahead to game three and a return to ANZ Stadium. They had been blown away.

Queensland could scarcely have choreographed a better start. The Maroons' opening 20 minutes was close to perfection.

By the time the onslaught had reached its apex, Queensland had enjoyed 81 per cent possession, NSW had worked itself into the ground and points had naturally followed.

The signs were promising as early as the second minute as Sam Thaiday opened the home side's account. Blues five-eighth James Maloney, so impressive as he made his debut in Origin I, was responsible on two fronts.

First, he was penalised for stripping the ball from Thaiday. That allowed Queensland to move within striking distance. Then he missed a tackle on Thaiday as the Maroons backrower crashed over. In the blink of an eye it was 6-0.

Cronk, who threw the last pass, reeled away and punched the air in delight. Thaiday was buried in teammates. Queensland was on the back foot from the very beginning in Sydney. On home turf, they would play from in front and they were intent on staying there.

The Maroons were error-less and relentless in equal proportions as their blazing start went on unabated.

The Maroons' first error didn't arrive until the 21st minute.

Gallen made his feelings known straight after Boyd crossed. "It's about 7-0," Gallen said. Referee Shayne Hayne replied: "No, it's four."

It was one-way traffic and the scoreline reflected it as Queensland took a 14-0 lead into halftime.

Queensland 26 (S Thaiday, D Boyd 2, G Inglis tries; J Thurston 2 pens, 3 cons

NSW 6 (B Morris try; J Maloney 1 con)

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