Stat of Origin: Blues backs show defensive steel
One of the biggest question marks hanging over new Blues coach Brad Fittler's adventurous and exciting Origin I squad was whether he had focused too much on all-out attack, with a speedy back-line that could get found out when it was time to do the tough stuff in defence.
Those questions were answered in emphatic style as the baby Blues ran rings around their more established rivals in the Holden State of Origin series opener, won by NSW 22-12.
The Blues three-quarter line missed just a third of the tackles their opposites did by a count of 15-5, according to NRL.com Stats. Include the rest of the backline by adding in each team's 1-6-7 and the missed tackle tally blows out to 30-12.
Latrell Mitchell is raw, they said, capable of game-breaking plays in attack but prone to defensive lapses. He busted 11 tackles, completed seven of his own and missed none. James Roberts? Sure he's fast but Inglis will run over him, they said. Roberts made 16 tackles and missed just three.
James Maloney? He misses the most tackles in the NRL and he'll be a liability, they said. On the night, Maloney made 14 tackles and missed three, while his opposite man Cameron Munster missed a whopping eight tackles.
Greg Inglis was the man for Queensland; his inspirational skipper's knock featured some powerful carries and monstrous shots in defence. His stats line reads 18 tackles made, just one missed, and five busts. Unfortunately for coach Kevin Walters it was a lone hand.
Will Chambers may be the best centre in the NRL but he came off very much second best on the night against the young buck Mitchell. Chambers' night finished with a match-high 10 missed tackles as Mitchell ran riot (to go with one critical fumble, one poor kick to cede possession at a crucial time and one dangerous contact charge at the judiciary).
In fact, going through the back sevens comparing each player against their direct opposite, the Inglis v Roberts battle was the one clear win to Queensland defensively. Tom Trbojevic also missed one tackle versus none for his opposite Val Holmes (who also beat Trbojevic 3-1 in the tackle bust count), though 'Turbo' outleapt Holmes to steal a crucial second-half try and edge the one-on-one duel for the night.
Otherwise it was a landslide win to the Blues' backs in the defence stakes as the graphic highlights.
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