Home / World News / State of Origin 2022: Second half romp delivers New South Wales Perth win over Queensland, levels series

State of Origin 2022: Second half romp delivers New South Wales Perth win over Queensland, levels series

A 22-point masterclass from Nathan Cleary has helped New South Wales crush Queensland 44-12 at Optus Stadium to square up the State of Origin series.

With their backs against the wall, New South Wales dismantled their bitter rivals’ defence with a scintillating second half performance to tee up a series decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Staring down a series defeat, the Blues overcame some Queensland haymakers in the first half to deliver knockout blow after knockout blow in the second.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26: Nathan Cleary of the Blues runs the ball during game two of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium on June 26, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconNathan Cleary kicked New South Wales to a first-half lead and then ran them to victory after half-time. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Penrith star Cleary bent the game to his will, setting up one try and scoring a couple of his own late while maintaining a perfect kicking record.

After copping criticism for a sub-par game one, Cleary’s man of the match performance won him the plaudits of both his coach and his captain.

“I thought he read the game really well, setting up the try early with the kick. They were coming and put a lot of pressure on us with their outside defence,” Blues coach Brad Fittler said.

“I think by the end of the game, they were pretty fatigued and and Jarome Luai just took advantage – that’s what they can do, they do it at Penrith – but I think he set it up early with a few decisions early.”

New South Wales captain James Tedesco said while he thought some of the criticism of Cleary in game one had been unfair, his response was excellent.

“He came out the week after and carved up for Penrith and he brang (sic) that confidence into game two,” he said.

“That shows what a champion player he is. He’s awesome to play with and he was probably our best tonight.”

In front of a sell-out crowd, the Blues started brightly as Cam Murray charged down Cam Munster’s attempted clearing kick, only for the bouncing ball to evade Cleary.

Up the other end, Brain To’o made a try-saving tackle in the corner, darting to his left to push a leaping Selwyn Cobbo out of play, before a Cleary penalty drew first blood for the Blues.

After the rollicking start, both teams settled down into a steady rhythm, before a 10-minute pow-wow infused the game with some life and brought the crowd out of their shells.

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