The Queensland Maroons will look to improve in Game II at Suncorp Stadium after NSW proved too strong in the opening match of the series, taking a 50-6 win.
The visiting Blues led from start to finish in Townsville in a victory that featured some outstanding performances from their centres Latrell Mitchell and Channel Nine player of the match Tom Trbojevic, who crossed for three tries.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Speaking to the broadcaster following the match, Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was shattered by the performance, particularly as the side had been excited to play a home game in North Queensland, with 27,533 fans turning up to watch.
“That hurts a fair bit,” Cherry-Evans said.
“We didn’t learn from our mistakes (in the first half).
"We have a lot of improvement left in us.
“There’s two games left; we’ve got to shrug it off.”
The Maroons were in the fight at half-time after a fantastic try from Kurt Capewell got the side on the board and Queensland went into the break trailing 20-6.
Capewell gets one back on Trbojevic
Trbojevic had scored his first try of the night in the 17th minute, with Panthers winger Brian To’o having a dream debut, scoring two tries in quick succession to put the Blues out to a 20-0 lead early.
The Blues opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the ninth minute after the opening stages of the game produced the kind of football fans had come to expect from Origin football.
However, NSW were soon able to shake off the Queenslanders who were dealt a cruel and decisive blow when Christian Welch failed his HIA following a head clash with To’o in the 13th minute to put the whole team on the back foot.
Centre Dane Gagai had battled tonsillitis in the lead-up to the game, but put in a strong effort, while Moeaki Fotuaika was a standout forward for the home side with a display that included 120 metres run and 29 tackles made.
Harry Grant worked hard in defence with 40 tackles, closely followed by Felise Kaufusi with 38.
The second half saw NSW run in five more tries - two to Mitchell, two to Trbojevic and one to Daniel Saifiti - while keeping Queensland scoreless, despite some close efforts from Gagai in the closing stages of the game.
The squad will look to make improvements before State of Origin Game II at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium on June 27.