Patience a virtue for Queensland: Smith
Queensland captain Cameron Smith has credited the patience of the Maroons as the reason for their hard-fought 11-10 victory over New South Wales in State of Origin I.
With the scores level at 10-all with 15 minutes to play, Smith attempted to bury his way over the try-line to hopefully put his team ahead on the scoreboard but was held up by some quick-thinking defence from opposite captain Robbie Farah and debutant Josh Jackson.
Smith's attempt to score forced a handover after what looked to be a promising passage of play, where Queensland hammered the Blues in their own red zone for four consecutive sets, yet the Maroons hooker wasn't fussed nor thought the game was New South Wales's for the taking.
"I thought at that stage of the game we were in control of the match and playing quite well. In the second half, we played with a lot of patience and we had a strong kicking game off the back of our good sets," Smith said in the post-game press conference.
"When you get held up over the line then you have to make the next effort count. When we had our opportunities down their end I thought we did a good job to build pressure. I thought the lads did a really good job to keep their heads and to stay calm in situations where we were on the ropes a little bit.
"At no stage though did we think we were out of the game there. It's State of Origin, it ebbs and flows throughout the whole match and we knew if we stuck to our game plan we'd be in it to the end."
Queensland coach Mal Meninga was just as pleased with his team's effort, especially with his team down 10-6 at half-time.
"Our half-time was just about sticking to our plan – our field position, control and kicking game – so we basically talked about that really. We didn't have to change too many things," Meninga said.
"We had a sensational second half. The team's game management, field position and application of pressure on the Blues helped us get the result we wanted. Winning by a field goal again was about players managing the game in an appropriate way so I'm extremely pleased with the effort."
Smith went on to add that while it was satisfying to draw first blood, especially with what transpired last year with the Blues winning their first series since 2005, his Queensland teammates weren't "getting carried away with themselves".
"It's a series of three matches, not win one and it's all over, and they're a great football side. Teams have come back from one-nil down before," Smith said.
"It was always a huge challenge for us to come down here to Sydney where we haven't had the best record of recent years and Game One is crucial. You ask the Blues that, and they'll say the same thing.
"It was nice to come away with a tough win. At stages there we were out on our feet but we found some sort of effort somehow to get the win. It's all about enjoying it too. When you're playing at this level it's about enjoying victories, we never get out of hand, but you have to enjoy them."