Blues halfback Nathan Cleary silenced his doubters with a phenomenal display in State of Origin Game 2 and he even drew comparisons to the great Andrew Johns after the man-of-the-match display.
Cleary put on a masterclass in a must-win clash for NSW as the Blues battered the Maroons 44-12 in Perth.
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The star halfback went into the game having criticised his own performance after Game 1, but looked a different player as he set up two tries, scored two of his own and nailed a perfect eight from eight goals.
The dominant victory followed Queensland's 16-10 win in the series opener in Sydney, with NSW now chasing a win in Brisbane to seal the series from 1-0 for just the fourth time.
And after the match, Fox Sports commentator Yvonne Sampson pointed out that Cleary went 'berserk' in response to his Game 1 performance and doubters.
NRL great Michael Ennis went one step further and said he hadn't seen such a dominant performance from a NSW half since Andrew Johns in 2005.
“A historical individual performance,” Michael Ennis said.
“I haven’t seen a more dominant individual performance from a New South Wales half since Andrew Johns in 2005... it was incredible from Nathan Cleary.”
Andrew Johns praies NSW star Nathan Cleary
Johns also praised Cleary after the match and said he had silenced the doubters after Game 1.
“There was a lot of criticism after Game 1... only early in his rep career,” Johns said of Cleary on Channel Nine.
“I think it was harsh. But he stewed on it. He has been exceptional. Cleary is putting on a masterclass.”
The majority of the rugby league world agreed that Cleary had stepped up and put on a near perfect performance.
— Chloe-Amanda Bailey (@ChloeAmandaB) June 26, 2022
Nathan Cleary for Premier. you're hearing it more and more
— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) June 26, 2022
NSW we’re ridiculously good no doubt about it. Dominated the match. Nathan Cleary showed why he’s the best #NRL
— Glenson Guina (@GlensonG) June 26, 2022
The pub just started laughing after that second Cleary try.
This is a demolition. #Origin
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) June 26, 2022
I could not be happier for Nathan Cleary. For what he copped after game 1, to come out and have a blinder like that shows the accountable & hard working bloody star that he is. I could not be prouder of him- what a statement and a half 💙💙
— Nat Sinclair (@nat_sinclair93) June 26, 2022
While Cleary's performance was one talking point, Queenslanders were pointing out another that had a bearing on the game.
Match referee Ashley Klein came under heavy fire over his decision to sin-bin Felise Kaufusi late in the first half.
Klein's performance in Game I had been criticised by NSW coach Brad Fittler, who accused the referee of allowing Queensland to stray offside and slow down the ruck.
But Klein showed he was willing to send infringing players to the sin-bin when Kaufusi was dismissed for a 10-minute spell late in the first stanza.
The decision to march Kaufusi came off the back of a number of back-to-back infringements with NSW attacking Queensland's line, with Klein finally seeing enough to employ the sin-bin.
The Blues then scored just before half-time for a 14-12 lead at the break and never looked back after running wild on a fatigued Maroons outfit.
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