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Stat of Origin: Problem areas Maroons must fix

With NSW recording their biggest ever State of Origin win in the June 9 series opener, NRL.com Stats has delved into where exactly it went wrong for the Maroons and where they can look to improve for game two.

For all the Blues' dominance, there were plenty of areas where Queensland didn't fall behind.

They held about as much ball (51% to 49%) and had a near identical set completion rate as their opponents, finishing 31 of 40 against 32 of 40 for NSW and having around the same number of touches.

They were equal in penalties with four apiece, earned far more six-agains (8-1), had a couple more offloads (14-11), made almost as many metres from kicks, had almost as many total ball runs and finished the match with a comfortably faster average play-the-ball speed.

In terms of where they can improve – a simple eye-test will tell you they need to find a way to handle the Blues' rampant centre duo of Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell, which is easier said than done.

But the fact those two attacking aces were on the front foot from the get-go is something Queensland should have done a better job of managing and can try and address for game two.

One thing to consider is where and when the teams made their respective errors; for mistakes on tackles 0-3, the Maroons made eight against just three for NSW, with several of those leading to tries.

Execution was also a problem for Queensland when it came to their passing, with NRL.com Stats recording a total of 10 passes that were ineffective from the Maroons.

This occurs when a pass goes to ground, results in a loss of possession or misses its intended target (for example when a player has to stop and reach for a pass or the pass hits a decoy runner). The Blues came up with just one ineffective pass.

Queensland's short kicking game also came up with two crucial misses to concede 20-metre restarts, something the Blues didn't do once in the 80 minutes.

While the teams had similar numbers of runs across the 80 minutes, the Blues did far more with theirs than the Maroons, gaining around one and a half times as many total metres (1835 to 1243) and twice as many kick return metres (200 to 101).

This was also borne out in the post-contact metres, with the Blues averaging 3.1 PCM per carry against 2.4 for the Maroons. NSW had eight of the top nine players when it came to PCM per carry and the only Maroon in the list – Christian Welch – had just a single carry before going off injured.

Junior Paulo tore his way through a monstrous 5.5 PCM on average from his six runs with Payne Haas (4.5 PCM from 13 runs) and Brian To'o (3.9 from a whopping 27 runs) also proveing impossible to bring down. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (3.0 from 13 runs) was Queensland's best.

While sets and possession numbers were fairly equal, the location of both told a different story.

The Blues started six sets within the attacking 20 compared to three for the Maroons, and if you don't count receiving kick-offs they started 15 sets in their own 20 compared to 18 sets for Queensland.

However the Maroons overall had far more possession inside opposition territory than NSW, which if anything highlights how easily the Blues cracked Queensland open once they got even half a sniff.

NSW held less than three minutes of live-ball time inside Queensland's 20-metre zone, or around 10% of their overall possession. Queensland meanwhile had 17% of their possession or four-and-a-half minutes of live ball inside the Blues' 20, yet were on the wrong side of an eight-tries-to-one scoreline.

One thing Queensland should be able to address was the fact the Blues simply worked harder – despite similar numbers of total runs and time in possession they had far more support runs (66-48).

So while Queensland can't change the fact the Blues possess some of the most potent ball runners in the game, some of their own early-set errors, mistimed kicks and passes and lack of support play should be easy fixes that will at least allow them to get back into the grind in their Suncorp Stadium home fortress in game two.

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