Blues: We did enough to win
Heartbroken NSW players are of the belief they did enough to win the opening Origin encounter but just couldn't ice the opportunities they created for themselves.
The new-look spine had some really nice touches in attack and kicked well all night while the rookie back three carted the ball up with gusto and aside from a couple of shaky moments from debutant fullback Matt Moylan they handled Queensland's kicks with aplomb.
But despite a mountain of attacking ball in the second half and one disallowed try, they just couldn't quite land the killer blow. Knowing they could so easily have won both makes it harder to take but also provides much greater cause for encouragement compared to the Game Three debacle in last year's decider.
"We need to take our opportunities… Queensland got one opportunity and they took it. I reckon we probably created a couple, maybe three at least and we took one of them and that becomes the difference in games like this," said five-eighth James Maloney, one of his team's best on the night.
"The fact that we created them is pleasing but we need to finish them off and then we get a different result. That hurts I suppose because you look back at it and you probably call it a game we should have won.
"We definitely weren't outplayed by any means but I suppose that adds to the frustration that you look up at the scoreboard and you still didn't get the job done."
He agreed another week's preparation – assuming coach Laurie Daley sticks with the same playmaking combination for Game Two – would help those combinations be better prepared at Suncorp after having never played together as a unit before.
"It will definitely help. We always knew we'd get better as the series went on and that time together will help," he said.
"I thought our boys in the middle were enormous. I thought they laid a platform, they let us play footy and we probably created opportunities but just didn't ice them in the end and that probably changed the result.
"We've put ourselves in a situation now where that's us, it's do or die."
Back-rower Boyd Cordner – another standout for the team and the man who scored the Blues' only try – running a good line to take a late Maloney pass – was upfront about the hurt he and his teammates were feeling.
"It's definitely heartbreaking. It's an emotional roller coaster. It's something you want to do every year is play Origin but the downside is sometimes you lose and it's not a good feeling. I suppose it just adds fuel to the fire," Cordner said.
"I thought we were in control of that game and just execution down their end and obviously a bit of communication there let us down.
"It's all well and good talking about it now but it's not going to take the pain away."
Cordner was still able to praise what was for the large part a good team effort.
"It was a great performance I think, we stuck in there really well, I thought our defence was really good. I felt like we were on top for the best part of that game and just disappointing we didn't capitalise on our opportunities," he added.
"The best thing about it is the series is still alive; we've still got two games left.
"It's going to make it a little harder to go up there, it's a must-win game for us but we'll gain some confidence out of this game, there's plenty of positives to take out of it and I suppose we just need to keep working on some little things and I'm sure we be able to pull it altogether."
Maloney said Daley's message to the team was just to stick together and know the mission hasn't changed.
"He just sort of said it hurts and it is frustrating," Maloney said of the coach's post-match words.
"Nothing's changed in what we need to do. We needed to win two games from the start and we've still got to do that.
"We win together, we lose together, we're a team, we're all in it together and it's on us to turn it around. We can't go elsewhere, no one else is going to help us, it's about us sticking tight together and making sure we do the job next time."
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