PLAYER RATINGS: Queensland smash the New South Wales Blues in State of Origin I leaving a number of nervous players ahead of game two

The Queensland Maroons have smashed the New South Wales Blues 38-10 in State of Origin I at Accor Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday night.

It was a night of controversy as Blues debutant Joseph Suaali’i became the fastest player sent off in Origin history for his ugly tackle on Queensland’s Reece Walsh.

It left the Blues a man down while Queensland had to rapidly re-shuffle their line-up with Walsh ruled out of the rest of the game.

And it was the Maroons who handled the adversity the better, opening up a 1-0 series advantage with games to come in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Here are the players that stood up, and the ones that may be worried about getting a tap on the shoulder ahead of Origin II at the MCG.

QUEENSLAND

 Queensland Maroons star Reece Walsh was knocked unconscious early and ruled out of the rest of the match

Reece Walsh – No rating

Was targeted by Joseph Suaali’i and unfairly wrecked with an illegal high shot after just six minutes of football, leaving him unconscious and out of the game. Grading his performance would not be fair on the young fullback.

Selwyn Cobbo –  7.5

Replaced Walsh on the field after the horror tackle and slotted onto the left wing with ease, quickly escaping the clutches of the undermanned Blues and setting up the Hammer for the Maroons second try. Did very well not knowing what to expect coming off the bench.

Xavier Coates – 7

No flying heroics from the Melbourne Storm winger this time around, but did little wrong and got a deserved four-pointer off some DCE brilliance.  

Valentine Holmes – 7

His radar has been inexplicably off for the Cowboys lately, but he went a flawless seven from seven tonight to punish the Blues further. Thought he had a try until the Bunker intervened. 

Dolphins star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was brilliant on both sides of the ball after having to move to fullback in the absence of Walsh

Dolphins star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was brilliant on both sides of the ball after having to move to fullback in the absence of Walsh

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow – 9

It was Christmas time for the Hammer, moved to his preferred position of fullback and facing gaping holes in the defensive line where Suaali’i should have stood, helping himself to two early tries and tearing the Blues right edge to ribbons. Worked both sides of the ball and was near flawless in defence, diffusing the high balls and denying Spencer Leniu a try on the line.

Murray Taulagi – 6

Has spent a large chunk of the season out injured and may still be blowing out the cobwebs. Was regularly found out of position and never at his damaging best with ball in hand. But it is hard to stand out in a backline as lethal as this Maroons one. 

Tom Dearden – 9

Fatty Vautin loves him and so do Queenslanders after the ultra-competitive Cowboy put in another near flawless performance in the halves in the place of the injured Cameron Munster. Consistently challenged the line, pulled off a try saving tackle on Stephen Crichton and was putting the ball on a silver plate for his backs. Destined for a long and successful Origin future. 

Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates with Reece Walsh after a player-of-the-match performance

Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates with Reece Walsh after a player-of-the-match performance

Daly Cherry-Evans (c) -9.5

Evergreen and always in control, he steered the Maroons around expertly again and came up with a booming 40/20 in the second half to keep the Blues under the pump. Gobbled up an intercept when the Blues looked like scoring, kicked to perfection for Xavier Coates to score and never looked rattled. Gets better and better with age.

Reuben Cotter – 5

Was tough as old leather boots as always, but not quite at the rugged best Queenslanders are used to seeing. Didn’t crack the 100 metre mark and had seven missed or ineffective tackles. Will be hungrier for the run. 

How easy is this? Ben Hunt celebrates one of his two tries with Maroons half Tom Dearden

How easy is this? Ben Hunt celebrates one of his two tries with Maroons half Tom Dearden

Ben Hunt – 8

Crashed over the line too easily for the Maroons first try and again late in the second half to seal the result. Played limited minutes, but it was like he was covered in spiders as Blues players showed no interest in tackling him. He toyed with the defence and got the chocolates as New South Wales had no answer to his running game.

Lindsay Collins – 6

Should buy a Lotto ticket after not even giving away a penalty despite getting NSW fullback James Tedesco flush in the head as he scored a try. Joseph Suaali’i was sent off and Collins got nothing. It is this sort of inconsistency that is driving footy fans wild.

Jaydn Su’A – 4

May struggle to hold his spot in the starting side after only 54 running metres in 43 minutes. 

Jeremiah Nanai – 8

Unlucky to not get a try and there will be banter in the Cowboys sheds after his club teammate Reece Robson knocked the ball out of his hands. His run metres might have been limited, but he made the most tackles of any Queenslander on the park. 

Pat Carrigan won the battle against his Brisbane Broncos teammate Payne Haas

Pat Carrigan won the battle against his Brisbane Broncos teammate Payne Haas

Patrick Carrigan – 9

Ran for 164 metres and made 41 tackles without a single pause for breath, before he was finally given an early shower late in the match when the game was won. Always reliable at representative level and performed at an elite level here again. 

INTERCHANGES

Harry Grant – 6

A couple of uncharacteristic errors but tough as always at dummy half  

Moeaki Fotuaika –  5

A handful of missed tackles but a willing performance

J’maine Hopgood – 5

Great effort plays in limited minutes  

Selwyn Cobbo –

See starting team 

 

NEW SOUTH WALES

James Tedesco – 8

Tedesco toiled, ducked, weaved and did everything he could to slip through the line after being a late callup to replace the injured Dylan Edwards. There was no sour grapes as he rattled up five tackle breaks, over 200 running metres and the Blues first try in a willing showing.

Brian To’o – 7

A tremendous covering tackle on Selwyn Cobbo, plenty of running metres and a lot of heart in a team battling to compete with only 12 men. 

Stephen Crichton – 6

Consistently threatened to score and bring the Blues back in the match but could not find the magic moment they needed. Which often resulted in costly turnovers, led to an intercept try and would have frustrated the Bulldogs star immensely after putting in so much and getting so little reward. 

Joseph Suaali¿i is given his marching orders by referee Ashley Klein after just seven minutes

Joseph Suaali’i is given his marching orders by referee Ashley Klein after just seven minutes

Joseph Suaali’i – 0

Became the sixth New South Welsh player in history to be sent off and it came after just six minutes of the match after his illegal high shot on Reece Walsh. Put his side under the pump for the entire match and will be lucky if he is welcomed back to atone in game two. 

Zac Lomax – 6.5

The Blues needed a huge moment to haul themselves back into the match in the second half and the debutant provided it, outleaping Selwyn Cobbo for a vital try. Not bad considering he was playing on the wing, the position he had earlier said he didn’t want to play for the Dragons. 

Luai showed a new level of maturity and composure but it wasn't enough for the Blues

Luai showed a new level of maturity and composure but it wasn’t enough for the Blues

Jarome Luai – 6

A more mature showing from the three-time premiership winner who has previously been known more for his niggle than his ability to control a game. Some booming kicks, enterprising passes and all-round game management show that the Wests Tigers could be getting a more composed version of the Panthers champion.  

Hynes has struggled at NRL level in recent weeks, has been questioned over a possible calf complaint and could lose his spot to Mitch Moses

Hynes has struggled at NRL level in recent weeks, has been questioned over a possible calf complaint and could lose his spot to Mitch Moses

Nicho Hynes – 6

Will this bloke ever get a crack at Origin in his actual position? Suaali’i getting sent off meant the Blues right edge was shot to bits, so the Sharks star halfback was pushed out to the wing to defend and try and stop the bleeding. For a bit, it worked, but it hardly inspired the NSW attack. He laid on the try for Lomax in the second half to get the Blues back in the match, but may struggle to hold onto his jersey with Mitch Moses breathing down his neck.

Jake Trbojevic (c) – 4

Is the newly minted Blues captain injured? Never returned from his first stint and was left sitting on the bench wearing a raincoat watching his charges get smacked, instead of leading by example.  

The Cowboys hooker Reece Robson was the Blues best with his usual toughness and willingness to tackle all night

The Cowboys hooker Reece Robson was the Blues best with his usual toughness and willingness to tackle all night

Reece Robson – 8.5

Came up with an enormous one-on-play to knock the ball loose from Cowboys teammate Jeremiah Nanai who looked certain to score.  

Payne Haas – 5.5

Well contained by the Queensland defence, not shocking considering how many play with him at the Broncos. Lost the battle against teammate Patrick Carrigan and will need to stand up and deliver more in game two if the Blues are going to win. 

Liam Martin – 8

Rapidly becoming one of the most uncompromising Origin forwards in history. Never put the queue in the rack and came up with a bone-rattling tackle late in the match to put his side back on attack.  

Liam Martin (right) was visibly disappointed after emptying the tank for no result for the Blues

Liam Martin (right) was visibly disappointed after emptying the tank for no result for the Blues

Angus Crichton – 5

His edge was left exposed and Crichton mostly did all he could to seal the gap left by his winger being sent off. Missed four tackles but churned out plenty of metres, came up with a one-on-on strip but coughed up an offload in a dangerous position in a tough, but patchy performance. 

Cam McInnes – 6.5

Was always going to be a powerhouse in defence and certainly didn’t disappoint anybody in that department. But offered little in the way of attack, which could force a Maguire rethink for game two. 

INTERCHANGES

Isaah Yeo – 5

He is the link man for the Penrith Panthers but could not quite gel with his teammates coming off the bench in this outing and lacked the big game presence he has shown at club land coming off the bench for the Blues. 

Haumole Olakau’atu – 6.5

A nice cameo that showed just how dangerous he could be, may push for a spot in the starting side with a few more strong performances for Manly. 

Spencer Leniu – 8

Was held up over the line desperately trying to score a try and then collected a leg injury which Blues fans thought was from a suspected hip drop from Mo Fotuaika. Bravely continued on and gave it everything an impact player could possibly give off the bench. 

Hudson Young – 4

Put in a decent attacking kick at one stage, although it probably wasn’t scripted. Apart from that, didn’t do much at all. Will be looking for more ball in game two if he gets another shot. 

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