It was a case of different year, same result for the men in Maroon on Wednesday night, as the Queenslanders took out a tenth Origin series win inside the last eleven series.
1. Keeping the series alive in Queensland a task too tough, not just for Loz’s men
Failing to come away with a win in Game I of the series in front of the Blues’ faithful, heading to the cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium was always going to be a huge task for Laurie Daley’s side.
History will show that the Blues have not won a do-or-die Game II in Queensland since 1998, and again though not through lack of trying, the Blues were made to walk away from Brisbane with little joy.
2. Finishing touch, the difference at the death
Though Queensland consigned the Blues to a 10-point loss, but the result could have been so very different if not for a lack of a finishing touch from the New South Welshman.
A testament to their class and skill, the Queenslanders – notably wingers Dane Gagai and Corey Oates – found a way to touch down despite pressure, whereas the Blues couldn’t, and didn’t.
Last ditch attempts by Tyson Frizell and James Maloney were pulled back due to earlier knock ons, but both well within kicking distance, the Blues’ could have edged in front.
3. Early defensive load takes its toll on the Blues
The New South Wales side was forced to do a mountain of defence early on in the piece, as the ‘Big 3’ of the Maroons took control of the match and forced repeat sets.
Inspired by Captain Cameron Smith, halves Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk controlled the momentum and tempo of the match – forcing repeat sets and asking plenty of the Blues’ fitness.
4. Maloney’s read of the play kept the Blues in it.
Just as Gagai swooped on a loose ball to score the opening try of the night, so too did Maloney to race away to score in the 66th minute of play.
The long-range effort came only off the back of Maloney’s ability to think ahead of the play, as the five-eighth nabbed the ball from a bat-back to race the better part of 90 metres to cross.
Again Maloney would be in the thick of the action late, and looked to have again scored within five minutes from time, if not for a Michael Jennings knock on in the lead up.
5. Bird’s debut a sign of the future, despite defeat.
Jack Bird was injected in to the contest as Souths’ half Adam Reynolds went down with injury.
From his 5 carries Bird ran for 40 metres, and looked dangerous at every opportunity, breaking the line and going within inches of scoring on his Origin debut.
Not overawed by the occasion, Bird’s presence and performance will likely spark the dawn of a new Blues brigade.