Peter Sterling: How the Blues can avoid a whitewash

Without wishing to offend animal lovers - the most effective way to deal with a venomous snake is to incapacitate its head. Where it leads, the body will follow... and that can result in serious trouble.<br><br>For the NSW Blues on Wednesday night, Queensland is the snake and Cameron Smith is the head.<br><br>Amongst a number of superstars, I see the Maroons' hooker as the most influential. The work that he does out of dummy-half is what creates the time and space for the likes of Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater to introduce their magic.<br><br>I know that NSW also rate him that highly, and that is why in recent campaigns there has been a real emphasis on trying to close him down, so far to no avail. <br><br>They have drawn an imaginary square around the dummy-half area and attempted to confine his movement, which has been easier planned than done. In Game III, the desire will be no different and the responsibility will again be on the markers to get set, be square and cut Smith off as quickly as possible, should he look to dart from that area.<br><br>Cameron not only brings his forwards onto the ball better than anyone, but is also the most adept at taking advantage of opposition markers who don’t get themselves into position. Once he gets in behind the play-the-ball and forces a retreating defence, the Queensland halves and their support players are immediately ready to take full advantage.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=penaltyconceded&period=1&time=2367" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Smith grab valuable metres from dummy-half to put the Maroons in an attacking position.</a><br><br>His kicking game must also be rendered as ineffectual as possible. He actually put two out on the full in the second game, but the Blues can be assured that he won’t make the same mistakes again.<br><br>He is constantly looking at the 40/20 option and won’t necessarily wait until late in the tackle count, with his first attempt in Brisbane on the 3rd tackle. Later in the game he actually put an attacking grubber kick through for Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd on the first tackle which nearly caught NSW unawares.<br><br>This is the kind of thought that the Blues need to make sure is present tonight when they put boot to ball.<br><br>In my opinion, this has been a real weakness for them in the series, and the heat is on Trent Barrett and Mitchell Pearce to get this part of their game spot-on.<br><br>The obvious lesson that has been learnt is to not kick high anywhere near Israel Folau. It is a foolish notion to think that he is going to be beaten in the air.<br><br>On two occasions, Barrett hoisted the ball from 20 metres in on the right side of the field and had them land wide on the left. This is Folau’s domain and, as expected, he gobbled both of them up. If any kicks are to be put his way they must be rolling awkwardly along the ground to make it difficult for the big man to bend down and retrieve.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=handlingerror&period=1&time=2090" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see a disorganised set from NSW which ended in Barrett bombing to Folau's wing.</a><br><br>Any high kicks must surely be directed to the other side of the posts.<br><br>Whilst the NSW marker defence is crucial, so too is their decision-making out wide. In Game II, they were amateurish and broke a couple of cardinal rules.<br><br>The first was that a defender can never push up and go past the ball. In other words, it is unforgiveable to put yourself out of play by being closer to the far try-line than the ball carrier.<br><br>This gifted the Maroons the opening try in just the 3rd minute when Joel Monaghan raced up and in but beyond Johnathan Thurston. The half-back was so astonished that he didn’t pass long to Darius Boyd who would have strolled over uncontested. After recovering from his surprise, he hit Greg Inglis short who still had enough room to score in the corner. <br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=try&period=1&time=133" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see this defensive error which resulted in an Inglis try. </a>    <br><br>Twenty minutes later, the Blues were almost again punished with the experienced Matt Cooper also pushing up too far with Thurston in possession. The half-back was able to slip in behind Cooper which allowed Billy Slater to find space down the right flank. It was a rash move by NSW’s left centre, the type of play that I can’t ever recall seeing him produce when playing for the Dragons.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=penaltyconceded&period=1&time=1422" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see this defensive error off the back of a Paul Gallen penalty.</a><br><br>Finally, Israel Folau was presented with his second try of the night when Brett Morris failed to snuff out the opposition attack. He too came flying in off his wing only to go past Darren Lockyer and into “no man’s land”. It was a relatively simple task for Lockyer to delay his pass, change his method of delivery and give his young winger a saloon passage to the line.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=try&period=2&time=483" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to relive this classic Queensland try.</a><br><br>These out of character decisions are obviously due to pressure but the lesson must be learnt. If the NSW defenders don’t trust their teammate on either side and react in unison, they will again be carved open.<br><br>The second rule broken was that you can never turn your back on the opposition when they are in possession. Especially at this elite level.<br><br>Trent Waterhouse learnt the hard way when he didn’t sense any impending danger when making his way back into the defensive line. He only had his back turned for a moment but that was long enough for Lockyer to swoop. Darren moved from right to left to launch a short side raid against a dishevelled NSW line.<br><br>With little time to react, Trent was late back and positioned himself outside of centre Beau Scott. The Maroons were able to create an unlikely overlap to send winger Darius Boyd away.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/repgames/origingameanalyser/tabId/10936/default.aspx?fixtureid=50120100201&videoquality=1&type=try&period=1&time=2196" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Trent's defensive lapse which led to a Queensland try.</a><br><br>Again a very simple play but one where NSW contributed in helping make the decision for Queensland.<br><br>If the Blues are to avoid a whitewash they must not lose concentration, confidence or commitment. Origins are won with the head as much as they are with the body. <br>