NSW level State of Origin series after crushing win
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Nathan Cleary scored 24 points and combined with debutant Matt Burton to lift New South Wales to a dominant 44-12 win over Queensland in front of a capacity 60,000 crowd at Perth to level the State of Origin series 1-1.
The star halfback scored two tries, set up two more and kicked eight goals from as many attempts on Sunday as NSW responded emphatically to a tense 16-10 defeat in Sydney in the series opener with a seven-tries-to-two mauling of their fierce rivals.
The series will now be decided in the third and final game in Brisbane on July 13.
Burton, playing his first match for the Blues, looked at home in the NSW backline and scored his first origin try moments after Queenland backrower Felise Kaufusi’s had given the Maroons a 6-2 lead after 24 minutes.
Cameron Munster, the standout player in the opening match, was mostly blunted in Perth, but did find his way to the tryline, capitalizing on a break by Kalyn Ponga to restore Queensland’s lead at 12-8.
That was as good as it got for the Maroons as NSW took a 14-12 halftime lead after winger Brian To’o scored in the corner from Burton’s clever pass, just two plays after Kaufusi was sin binned for holding a player down in the ruck.
The second half was all NSW as the Blues ran rampant against the tiring Queensland defense, scroring five tries in the final half-hour with Cleary scoring a double in three minutes to settle the match as a contest and set up a decider at Brisbane in three weeks’ time.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports