State of Origin II: Mitchell Moses parts the Maroon Sea

Mitchell Moses of the Blues runs with the ball during the State of Origin Game Two match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

After a horror State of Origin Game I, and facing three consecutive years of rugby league torment, New South Wales might just be on their way out of Origin exile after Mitchell Moses parted the Maroon sea.

Whether through his hands or trusty-right foot, Moses showed his playmaking prowess in a 38-18 onslaught of Queensland at the MCG last night for Game II, leaving our friends north of the border scratching their heads in disbelief at the final whistle.

Moses alone sent four players over the try-line himself (the most assists by any one player since 2018) and left Reece Walsh and his wingers helpless to a flawless 442 metre kicking game.

Blues coach Michael Maguire’s new-look side, led by his newly selected star halfback, proved that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Well, seven tries ought to do it.

Madge finally landed himself the winning blueprint to level the series one game apiece. The trick to securing the entire thing? Emulate our inner QLD.

If years of Origin pain have taught the Blues anything, it’s that a consistently similar team is a tough one to beat.

For eight years NSW chopped and changed in-form players and new tactics in hopes of ending an Origin drought, while all QLD had to do was choose—for the most part—the same bunch of top-tier players willing to go out and play for each other.

The result? They got pretty good at playing for each other, and we stood no chance.

In years past the Blues have had star-studded rosters but haven’t managed more than two consecutive series wins, because of the QLD side’s cohesion.

It’s why I was partly doubtful heading into Game II. Not least because of our five roster changes, though necessary, but due to QLD only needing to make two (one of those being forced through injury).

While this Blues outfit would clearly be better than the one named three weeks ago, sometimes change just doesn’t fare well in Origin.

Yet this time, it was all quiet on the QLD front after the Blues produced the most dominating first half in Origin history, all but ending the game after 40 minutes, ahead 34-0.

Debutant Dylan Edwards ran circles around them (the most of any player, with 200m) and returning centre Latrell Mitchel terrorised the right-side defence, but it was star playmaker Moses who delivered the people of NSW from a cold Melbourne night.

And so, now’s the time for consistency. We’ve seen what this Blues team are capable of, so it’s up to them to come back for Game III and produce something similar for their state.

At the end of the day, are there still some changes I would make to that Blues side? Yes. Should they be made? Well, maybe not.

If history has taught us anything, you don’t mess with the right formula.

Ahead of yesterday’s game, the Panthers confirmed Nathan Cleary won’t be available until Round 20, ruling him out of the decider in Brisbane.

Though it’s almost unanimously agreed he is the best halfback option NSW have, I’ll (and probably for the first time, the entire state) be glad Madge won’t have him as an option.

There’s no time for second-guessing what we’ve already got. If anyone needs to make changes, it’s them.

But for now, let’s hope Mitchell Moses leads NSW to the promised land of Origin victory in July.

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