** QUEENSLAND

By Tony Webeck of NRL.com

1. Billy Slater: Kept relatively quiet in the first half but turned up when he was needed. Safe under the high ball, he was also on hand when Robbie Farah had a crack at the line from close range in the 67th minute. Not a game for the small quick men to shine. 6

2. Darius Boyd: Energetic start and along with Greg Inglis tested Blues' left edge from the start. Strong defensively and good on kick returns but little chance to impose himself on proceedings. 6

3. Greg Inglis: Looked threatening from the outset and dominated the match-up against Josh Dugan for the majority of the game. Even in the back-end of the second half looked the man most likely to break open the Blues defence and came up with 23 tackles in defence. 7

4. Justin Hodges: Went looking for the ball on both sides of the ruck and came up with the solitary line break of the first half when trailing Thurston through the middle of the field. His 144 metres were the most of any Maroons player with his line break one of only two for the game. 7

5: Brent Tate: Copped some heavy contact in early stages but backed up time and again to take tough dummy-half runs from deep inside Maroons' territory. Was forced from the field in the 56th minute with an injury to his right leg. 6

6. Johnathan Thurston: Had 30 touches compared to Cherry-Evans's 10 in the first half as well as becoming the greatest point-scorer in Origin history with his two first-half penalty goals. Fed Inglis early and then came up with the pass for the Hodges line break late in first half. Threw everything at the Blues defence early in the second stanza but was unable to crack them open. Guilty of letting Reynolds get under his skin in dying stages. 7

7: Daly Cherry-Evans: Eased into the game in attack but targeted by the Blues runners in defence. Copped plenty of attention from Farah whenever he touched the ball but grew in confidence as half wore on, his grubber on the back of the Hodges bust a nice shot just before half-time. Creative opportunities were few and far between for a player obviously less than 100 per cent but was brave in defence all night. 6

8: Matt Scott: Copped a whack across the nose after 12 minutes but stayed on for a first-up stint of 23 minutes. His six runs yielded 32m but played no part in the second half after suffering a suspected fractured cheekbone. 5

9: Cameron Smith (c): The niggling tactics of both teams played right into Smith's hands as he settled his troops and enabled them to take a 4-0 lead into the break. If the Maroons had won he'd have shared man of the match honours with Myles with 55 tackles and constant probing around the ruck in a disjointed game. 8

10: Nate Myles: In the midst of absolutely everything in the opening exchanges, coming up with 29 first-half tackles and putting his hand up for countless runs into the teeth of the Blues defence. Finished with 58 tackles and 115m and was a tower of strength, standing up to everything the Blues threw at him. 8

11: Aidan Guerra: Busy early on the left edge and formed a strong defensive combination with Myles but the slow nature of the ruck speed didn't suit his rangy running style. Six missed tackles don't make for great reading but has assured himself a long Origin career. 6

12: Matt Gillett: With the Maroons going left early Gillett took time to get into the game but poked his nose through the Blues defence more and more as game wore on. In the first 20 minutes of the second half he continually punched holes into the NSW defence but was guilty of poor ball security on occasion, finishing with 98m and 40 tackles. 7

13: Sam Thaiday: Denied the opening try by the hand of God (ie. Jarryd Hayne) and the video referees but his charges were a welcome addition to the tough opening 40 minutes. We should have expected nothing less than 113m and 34 tackles on his return to the Origin arena but it wasn't enough to get his side home. 7

14: Jacob Lillyman: Two strong charges when introduced midway through the first half and brought some welcome size off the bench. Racked up 63m and 13 tackles and was powerful with each of his seven hit-ups. 6

15: Ben Te'o: Powerful in both attack and defence, Te'o's hard runs in the middle of the ruck straightened the Maroons and gave his halves momentum to play football, particularly late in the first half. The man left clutching at thin air when he couldn't match it for pace with Blues half Trent Hodkinson but an otherwise good performance. 6

16: Chris McQueen: Introduced late in the first half, was forced to shift to the right wing when Brent Tate left the field midway through the second half, spilling a tough chance in the 60th minute when failed to reign in a Hodges pass. Came up with some strong charges that straightened the attack but playing out of position made his assignment a difficult one. 5

17: Dave Taylor: Kept on the bench for the opening 40 minutes, Taylor was introduced early in the second term with the apparent strict instructions to run and not pass. Unfortunately for the Maroons when he did finally throw one in the 65th minute it was to no one.  Made 67m and 16 tackles but was unable to impose himself as he does at club level. 5

** NEW SOUTH WALES

By Nigel Wall

1. Jarryd Hayne: Assured, mistake-free performance, but was never afforded a chance to attack by smothering Queensland defence. Gained momentum with some quick play-the-balls. His try-saver on Sam Thaiday kept NSW in the game. However, was kept quiet in attack in second 40. Was a close second to Farah for man of the match. 8

2. Will Hopoate: Bit player who needed a more open game to showcase his wares. Looked light on energy and of frame. Lost feeling in his arm midway through first half. Did not let anyone down with errors but for ours, not really up to this level at this stage of his comeback. 6

3. Josh Dugan: Great first tackle on Greg Inglis announced his presence. Had few carries in the first 40 and wasn't greatly effective, getting pummelled within seconds of grasping the ball, but gradually worked into the game. Made a whopping 23 tackles. 7

4. Michael Jennings: Made a few scurries and tried to get the jet boots happening but didn't have the room to move to create any great opportunities. Defended stoutly. 7

5. Daniel Tupou: Seemingly struggled to make the impact expected of him for the second game in a row for NSW. A threat in the air at club level, his playmakers couldn't land a kick to his liking. Did make a great try-saving wrap-up of Brent Tate. 7

6. Josh Reynolds: Certainly a passionate effort but was a weak link at times. Earned the wrath of his skipper when he took a quick tap without permission. Pulled off a try-saving effort to deny Daly Cherry-Evans a try in the closing stages of the first half. Lost a ball to Greg Inglis when on the attack in the 50th minute, and Sam Thaiday nearly scored in the resulting set. Then threw three other turnover balls to keep Blues on back foot. 6

7. Trent Hodkinson: Average kicking game early before sizing up an opportunity in first 10 minutes of the second half with an enterprising grubber for winger Tupou for a rare breakout play. Was on the spot to score the try that levelled the scores then booted the conversion from 10m in from touch to nudge the Blues towards the series. 6

8. Paul Gallen: Ran like a train, galloping 183 metres with 37 tackles. Threw a bad intercept offload with his back turned when in attacking position to Thurston in the 27th minute that nearly backfired. Tried hard but was contained by the Maroons who applied every trick in the wrestling book to negate his impact in the first half. 8

9. Robbie Farah: The NRL.com Man of the Match. Had a massive 115 touches of the Steeden. Hounded Cherry-Evans all night with brutal attention. Some great tactical kicks for the sideline and deep into the corners. Directed traffic with calm and showed all his experience to keep the team grounded. Was the difference. 9

10. Aaron Woods: Gave away a silly penalty in the second minute and had a relatively quiet game before being injected for a second spurt midway through the second 40. Lucky to escape scrutiny when appearing to come into contact with the football when attempting to let it go dead on the restart with the Blues up 6-4 and plenty of time on the clock. 6

11. Beau Scott: Was selected to put Maroons on their backside and that's precisely what he did, 27 times. Refused to be intimidated by the Queenslanders and can hold his head high. 7

12. Ryan Hoffman: Was one of the Blues' strongest performers. Made inroads (134 metres) others couldn't. In particular, ran a straight line when others crabbed or propped at the line. Was tireless in defence too, making 34 tackles. 8

13. Greg Bird: Quiet in attack in the first half but enjoyed more of the open spaces during the second 40. Along with Jarryd Hayne was responsible for upping the tempo in the second 40. 7

14. James Tamou: Failed to shut the gate to allow a threatening break by Hodges late in first half. Made a couple of solid charges but was limited to just 42 metres. 6

15. Trent Merrin: Touched the ball just five times and didn't get much game time. Coach Daley realised the play wasn't suited to his offloading game. May be more effective in Game Three. 5

16. Anthony Watmough: Injected late in the first half but wasn't suited by the slow pace of the play-the-ball. His lifting tackle on Myles took the steam out of NSW's attack in the early stages of the second half. Made 20 tackles. 6

17. Luke Lewis: Was full of energy when he came on and made 11 receives for 75 metres, with 15 tackles. 6

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