The Maroons did a good job plugging the holes around the play-the-ball but drifted off-course after a crisp, purposeful start, winger Valentine Holmes said.
"That was our game plan, we wanted to get GI (captain and centre Greg Inglis) one-on-one with (opposing centre) Jimmy Roberts as much as we could and I thought we did that really well.
"We went away from that a little bit in the second half, especially when (Roberts) got sent off for 10, so I definitely thought we could have capitalised a bit better on that but I guess it wasn't to be." Roberts was sent to the bin for a professional foul with less than 12 minutes until full-time.
Holmes said the Blues had picked a fast, young team "so we knew it was going to be flat and fast and back and forth".
He praised the improved effort around the ruck. "Big credit to our middles, (NSW) didn't get any line breaks through the middle so obviously we worked on that from the first game.
"(But) probably our kick finishes weren't at where we needed to be and probably that's where we lost it.
"I thought we had a few little brain explosions, even myself, so it's definitely something we have to work on.
"We've still got the next game and we don't want to finish with a whitewash so hopefully we'll get a good win there back at home, start again next year."
The Maroons play the third and final Origin for 2018 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on Wednesday, July 11.