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Stat Attack: Blues' forward march to series triumph

While Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and the NSW backs have stolen the headlines, the Blues forward pack have quietly gone about dominating the Maroons as well.

Statistics show NSW's forwards (including the bench) have owned the middle-third of the field in easily recording more total metres and post-contact metres than Queensland across games one and two.

Blues prop Daniel Saifiti has led the charge, racking up more metres than any other forward (271m) this series, so his absence in the third match due to a rib injury is a blow for Brad Fittler's team.

NSW front-rower Payne Haas has been immense off the interchange to collect the second-most metres (238m) while leading Maroons metre-eater David Fifita (186m) is suspended for Origin III.

Queensland weren't helped by the early loss of Christian Welch to a head knock in game one and their forwards (including the bench) managed 645m to the Blues' 752m in a 50-6 hiding in Townsville.

With Welch fit and Josh Papali'i back on deck after a ban, the Maroons' big men put up more of a fight to post 752m in Origin II.

But after weathering the initial storm, NSW still managed to decisively overpower the Canetoads with 805m in a 26-0 triumph.

And the difference in impact between the benches is stark.

Spearheaded by Haas, NSW's interchange players (including Jack Wighton, who has played a roving role) have collectively chewed up 583m compared to Queensland's 466m this series.

Looking at only the starting middles (props and lock) over games one and two, the gap is even wider - though Welch only playing 12 minutes in the series-opener provides context as to why.

Still, the Blues have set the tone from the first whistle on both occasions with their engine room gaining 601m as a unit.

Their Maroons counterparts, meanwhile, ran for only 473m.

Somewhat surprisingly, only three NSW forwards have surpassed 100 metres in Origin I and II. Saifiti and Haas achieved the feat in back-to-back matches while Angus Crichton raised the bat in game two.

For Queensland, Fifita and Moeaki Fotuaika made a rare dent with the ball in the first clash and, in a sign of what the team missed in Origin I, Welch and Papali'i then joined Jai Arrow in reaching a ton.

Elsewhere, the Blues have produced a slightly better tackle efficiency (87.7% vs 86.7%) to underline their all-round excellence.

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With Saifiti sidelined, expect the Maroons - bolstered by having Welch and Papali'i up front - to reduce the margins between the packs.

But if NSW can withstand their starting intensity and win the battles of the benches, the Blues' big boppers should again provide the platform for their exceptional outside backs to run riot and clinch a sweep.

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