Wed, May 28, 2:28pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: Queensland vs. New South Wales – State of Origin Game 1
When/Where: 7:00pm, Monday 28 May at Suncorp Stadium
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DEATH, taxes and Queensland winning the State of Origin series – the three certainties in life.
Well, at least for the last eight years it has been.
In 2014 New South Wales return, full of optimism, looking to end the longest drought since the genesis of the Origin concept in 1980. Game one of this year’s series will be the 100th State of Origin encounter.
Queensland will start a short-priced favourite to win this first game, the best price currently available for the Maroons is $1.45, which is an identical quote across the board with all the leading bookies.
The Blues have made multiple changes to the team that went down 2-1 in 2013, none more important than the new halves pairing. Coach Laurie Daley has opted for a new duo, with Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds from the Bulldogs coming into the side at the expense of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney from the Roosters.
Queensland has had little reason, other than injuries, to make any alterations to its all-conquering outfit, with Aidan Guerra being the only inclusion to the squad from last year.
Blues skipper Paul Gallen has fuelled the fire between the two teams and is sure to receive an icy reception at Suncorp stadium come Wednesday. Gallen referred to the Maroons fans as “two-heads” when asked about the hostile atmosphere at Suncorp Stadium, albeit with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek.
Series betting also heavily favours the Maroons with the best price available $1.47 with Sportingbet.com.au (better than $1.42 with IASbet). With two of the matches being held in Queensland in 2014, it does look a very inviting bet.
The last three series have resulted in a 2-1 series result to Queensland. That option is currently $2.30 with both Sportingbet and Centrebet if you think it can happen again.
Historically, the records point towards Queensland, particularly in recent times and even more so when the match is played in Queensland. There looks to be little reason for that not to continue.
The only player missing from Queensland’s successful 2013 line-up is the injured Sam Thaiday, who is out through injury. He has been replaced by the Roosters Aidan Guerra, who will start on the bench. Matt Gillett moves into the starting team.
1. Billy Slater
2. Darius Boyd
3. Greg Inglis
4. Justin Hodges
5. Brent Tate
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Matt Scott
9. Cameron Smith
10. Nate Myles
11. Chris McQueen
12 Matt Gillett
13 Corey Parker
14. Daly Cherry-Evans
15. Ben Te’o
16. Josh Papalii
17. Aidan Guerra
18. Will Chambers
19. Jake Friend
Queensland are becoming like that ultra reliable car that you just have to keep filling up with fuel and it keeps getting you there. The same faces, a low-key ultra professional preparation and dare I suggest, probably the same result, yet again. It could almost be boring if they were not at $1.47 to do so.
The Maroons have little to worry about in terms of team combination with the side virtually unchanged from last year. There is that little concern that age may be catching up with them, but I’d prefer to see it proven before I jump off the Maroon bandwagon – they certainly aren’t wobbling around on Zimmer frames just yet.
Johnathan Thurston’s form has been nothing short of first class in recent weeks. Expect him to show the way for the Maroons in this opening encounter.
The Melbourne Storm’s “Big Three” of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith have been part of the nucleus of this all-conquering team for a number of years. They still have the hunger to prove that they are the best in the business at this level and are likely to run amok in this game.
The Blues have selected a new halves pairing after Mitchell Pearce was omitted due to a late night misdemeanor in Sydney’s Kings Cross. Greg Bird is also absent due to a suspension for a dangerous tackle and will be sorely missed.
Andrew Fifita and Boyd Cordner were also unavailable for selection due to injury while Daniel Tupou will debut on the wing, a position that was filled by James McManus in game three last season.
1. Jarryd Hayne
2. Brett Morris
3. Josh Morris
4. Michael Jennings
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Aaron Woods
9. Robbie Farah
10. James Tamou
11. Ryan Hoffman
12. Beau Scott
13. Paul Gallen
14. Trent Merrin
15. Anthony Watmough
16. Luke Lewis
17. Tony Williams
If the New South Wales team were farmers, the government would have initiated a drought appeal for them a few years ago. The Blues have not won a series since 2005. Some school kids could be in grade two or three and never seen anything but a Queensland Origin win, that’s how drastic things have become.
Sure, they have come close in recent times with a couple of series decided by just one or two points, but they have been unable to overcome the aura of the Maroons and put the final nail in the coffin.
Every year the same pre-match promises and talk of “how this year is different” is trotted out, but it’s yet to materialise into results. For now, watching New South Wales and hoping for a series win is like watching The Titanic over and over and hoping the ship doesn’t sink.
Paul Gallen could well be the most hated man in Queensland on Wednesday night but he has an integral role to play for his forward pack. New South Wales will need to dominate up front for their backs to be able to create and Gallen can be the catalyst.
The match will be a massive litmus test of the ability of rookie halfback Trent Hodkinson. Queensland will go out of its way to make his first foray into Origin a nightmare and it will take a fair effort to shine in those circumstances.
|Bet on Queensland vs. New South Wales|
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Looking at the form on face value, it is hard to see anything happening outside of a Queensland victory.
Seven straight series wins, home ground advantage, almost an unchanged line-up and a perfect preparation. Tipping against them would be like tipping against Black Caviar in a Tuesday maiden at Wagga Wagga.
The Blues have plenty to play for and should be able to stick with the Queenslanders for a long period, but class will prevail. The Maroons look too good.
Prediction – Queensland by 10.
Queensland – $1.45 with all bookmakers
New South Wales – $2.85
This looks to be the best bet of the game. Queensland are entitled to be shorter than $1.45 and should be winning. If you are only having one bet on the match, this looks the best one to have. It could also be a good lead in to your weekend multi’s.
Queensland 1-12 – $2.85 with Sportsbet.com.au
Queensland 13+ – $2.75
New South Wales 1-12 – $3.75
New South Wales 13+ – $8.00
Draw – $23.00
If there is one concern in this market, it is that Queensland will blow New South Wales off the park early and explode away to a big win. At $2.85 in the 1-12 bracket, the Maroons look fairly backable.
Queensland -6.5 – $1.94 with IASbet.com and Sportsbet.com
New South Wales +6.5 – $1.90
More value lies in the line-betting market. With so many staunch New South Wales punters opting for the safety net of a 6.5 point head start, Queensland has drifted out to $1.94. They should be able to account for this line with ease and this has to be considered another option worthy of an investment.
Darius Boyd has proven to be a try-scoring machine at this level. He relishes the extra opportunities on the wing and looks the best option in this game for first try-scorer. Boyd is currently $9.50 with sportsbet.com.au. You can also get $2.10 about him scoring at anytime during the match, which is worthy of consideration.
If you prefer a New South Wales player as your first scorer, look no further than Brett Morris at $12 with Sportsbet (better than $11 with Sportingbet).
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