By Jack Brady of NRL.com
A proud Mal Meninga has spoken with the highest of praise over his Queensland team's performance despite going down 6-4 on Wednesday night and losing their first Origin series since 2005.
While the eight-year streak has finally come to an end, the Queensland coach was adamant that the Maroons will hold their heads up high, even making a case that the streak never had to end – a testament really to the Queenslanders spirit living on to the dying end.
"We thought we could go on forever. That's our attitude to things and through the week our preparation was fantastic despite all the disruptions we had with injury but tonight wasn't our night," Meninga told reporters after the game.
"Tonight we lost a really crucial player in Matt Scott early in the game and then obviously with Brent [Tate, we] lost him in the back end the game.
"That has an impact on your footy side but then the effort of the other 15 players, they were fabulous.
"There were two footy teams out there and it was fantastic game. I thought we dominated the game for sixty minutes but the Blues stepped up another gear and they finished the game well."
While the State of Origin shield will be heading back to south of the Tweed, Meninga couldn't help share his thoughts that if it weren't for a few questionable referee decisions and turning points it could have been a whole different outcome for Queensland.
"We controlled the field position and I thought Sam's try was a try. Seriously. It was stripped and then he regathered. He didn't knock the ball on, he regathered from a strip," Meninga said.
"Aaron Woods did touch the football [when the ball was kicked out on the foul late in the game] but we live and breathe by those decisions every week and in Origin it can make a difference but we're not going to offer any excuses. These boys tried their hearts out tonight and we didn't get the results."
With a game to go in the series, Meninga maintained that his troops will be heading into Game 3 to make amends and prevent a series whitewash at Suncorp Stadium on July 9th.
"We're not wallowing in self pity if that's what you want to hear. It wasn't our night tonight we had opportunities but at the end of the day we're not going to criticise anybody or make excuses," Meninga said.
"We pride ourselves on playing until the 80th minute and we did that tonight. These boys tried their backsides off or 80 minutes tonight and didn't get the result they were after."