Five keys for NSW to win in State of Origin II

PHIL LUTTON
Last updated 20:22 18/06/2014
Paul Gallen
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STILL WAITING: This might be Blues star Paul Gallen's last chance to win an Origin series.

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Winner takes all ... five keys to tonight's Origin in Sydney.

Grounding Hayne When Mal Meinga said the best way to deal with Jarryd Hayne was A: Get near him and B: tackle him, he was only half joking. The NSW fullback ran riot in game one, giving Johnathan Thurston nightmares in defence and producing one of the great Origin performances. He's in fine form but if Queensland can manage to cut down his involvement, or at least limit the damage, they stand a better chance of taking this to a decider.

Walking wounded Smoke and mirrors? Hardly. Queensland has taken a huge risk by playing Daly Cherry-Evans. His knee remains frail and it would only take a decent knock, like the one he suffered for Manly against the Bulldogs, to render the Maroons halfback-less for the second game running. Meninga has taken it on good faith that Cherry-Evans can stand up to the rigours of Origin. You can bet NSW will make sure he feels every tackle.

Holding their nerve NSW were exceptional in game one, going above and beyond to win over the border and potentially claim the series in front of a sold-out home stadium. But getting over the line against a Queensland outfit that has come back from 1-0 down before is easier said than done. NSW took game one on passion and heart. Now they need to prove they can be clinical and finish the job.

New faces The Brothers Morris were a massive factor in the NSW win in Brisbane. With both out injured, Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate must step up to the plate. The match-up of Dugan against Greg Inglis could be pivotal in the outcome of the match. The Queensland centre rarely has two quite ones in a row.

Sixes and sevens It goes without saying that the performance of the halves will be crucial. The pairing of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson rose to the occasion in game one but can expect much closer attention this time. Thurston was a virtual speedbump against Hayne and Cherry-Evans battled to make an impact. There's much to prove on both sides of the line.

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