Six Again: State of Origin - With Game 2 glory must come Game 1 guilt

First tackle: With Game 2 glory must come Game 1 guilt

Blues coach Brad Fittler and his selectors are receiving the plaudits after their controversial seven squad changes from Game 1 came together for an outstanding victory in Perth. It should not be overlooked, though, that these were the same selectors that came up with the team for the Game 1 loss.

What on earth made them think that Cody Walker would be a better partner for Nathan Cleary in the halves. Why wasn't Maloney given a chance to play himself out of his series-winning role for the Blues? Maloney was the architect of the Game 2 win, yet if anyone else had been available, Fittler suggested, he would not have been picked.

What made the selectors name an under-sized bench for Game 1 and why did Fittler rotate the forwards to Queensland's advantage? Why has Dale Finucane been forced to wait so long for his Origin debut? Why was Tariq Sims dropped from last year's series-winning team?

Was the Game 1 team so wrong that it couldn't have turned things around in Perth? Could the coaching staff have spoken to Latrell Mitchell and worked out what was going on in his head to make him play so poorly in Game 1? We'll never know, but can you imagine the potency of the Blues backline with a fully firing Mitchell subbed in for Jack Wighton?

Second tackle: Possession is king

New South Wales won the penalty count on the night by a completely respectable margin of 7-6. When you look at the final statistics, it's hard to imagine that the penalty count played any part in the result. The 59 percent possession advantage to the Blues could be seen more as a result of the 83 to 76 percent difference in the completion rates.

What does play an enormous part in the flow of a game is the clumping of penalties together. When a team is awarded penalty after penalty it becomes almost impossible for the defending side to respond. They spend a lot of energy tackling and when they do have the ball they are generally in recovery mode.

The first penalty of the game didn't come until the 11th minute and it went to Queensland. They received another a minute later and piled on the pressure, before being awarded a penalty-try a minute after that. The Blues received their first penalty in the 18th minute of the game with the scores locked at 6-6. Queensland would receive one more in the 26th minute of the first half, before the Blues were awarded the next six penalties.

By the time the Maroons received their next in the 62nd minute, the match was over. You can blame Queensland's ill-discipline, but it's hard to imagine that only one team was transgressing for such a long period of time. The penalties will naturally go to the team with the ball, but that becomes self-perpetuating after a while.

Third tackle: How did the new guys go?

It is hard to be critical of any of the seven players brought into the Blues squad for Game 2. Sure, Blake Ferguson made his almost mandatory handling error in the trying conditions, but apart from that he had one of his better games at club or representative level. James Maloney was the genius inclusion, even if he was a "last-resort" choice. Maloney's poise and game control were instrumental in the big win.

Daniel Saifiti was brilliant in the opening exchanges, more than filling the large boots vacated by David Klemmer. Dale Finucane proved everyone right by fitting into the Blues jersey like he belonged there all along; Tariq Sims picked up where he left off last year, running hard and hitting harder.

Wade Graham, returning to the Origin stage with only 87 minutes of NRL under his belt following a knee reconstruction, was simply incredible. He started on the edge and caused problems for Queensland with his bullocking runs and deft passing skills. Then when Nathan Cleary left the field with an ankle injury, he stepped into the five-eighth role as the Blues scored 20 second-half points to Queensland's zero.

There was only one of the magnificent seven that outplayed Graham and that was Tom Trbojevic. How his brother received the man-of-the-match award ahead of him will go down as the greatest State of Origin mystery since Billy Slater claimed last year's player of the series.

Fourth tackle: What now for Mitchell and Crichton?

After recording Queensland's second biggest defeat in Origin history, the only way Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton will slip back into the squad this series will be through injury. Unless there is a backline reshuffle or Wighton or Trbojevic are injured, Mitchell, hailed the greatest player in the world a short couple of weeks ago, will have to wait until next season to find himself back in a Blues jersey. Crichton might not make it back at all.

Crichton stormed onto the scene for the Rabbitohs with much acclaim. Since moving to the Roosters his game has taken a backward step, although he is still a very handy NRL forward. Whether he has the size and the ferocity to be a game-breaker at Origin level is something that the selectors will have to determine.

Fifth and last: Speaking of injury

Nathan Cleary was unable to play out the second half of Game 2, after going down with an ankle injury. He is yet to undergo scans to determine the extent of the injury, but with the Origin decider just two-and-a-half weeks away, he is in extreme doubt.

What will Fittler and his selectors do if Cleary is ruled out?

There was plenty of post-match chat about bringing form half Mitchell Pearce straight into the No. 7. I am yet to be convinced that Pearce is really interested in having the whole of New South Wales on his back, yet again. There is also the issue of him fitting in with James Maloney when both players have very similar games. There is a suspicion that they would almost get in each other's way as they both like to run the game.

The safer option would be to move Graham into the No. 6 jersey and bring a utility player onto the bench. It worked perfectly well in the second half in Perth. The other option would be to move Wighton into five-eighth, forgive Latrell Mitchell, and assemble one of the most lethal backlines in Origin history. Can Mitchell turn his form around enough in the next Roosters game to convince Fittler and his selectors that he is ready to give his best for the cause?

Hand over: What now for Queensland?

Where does Queensland coach Kevin Walters go from here? How can he turn things around before the decider in Sydney? Do they even have seven players out there to make a Blues-like squad shake-up?

Queensland will go back to the drawing board and realise that they had no real answers to the triple threat of Damien Cook, James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic. Once the Blues had them on the back foot, they were able to carve them up through the sheer pace of these three, backed up by flashes of magic from winger Josh Addo-Carr.

They'll need to draw on every ounce of that Maroons spirit to cause an upset in the decider. They'll stick with the same squad, give or take the odd injury, mainly because they have no option. They'll need to lift like they have never lifted before, but who can honestly write them off?