THE Maroons had one of the toughest build-ups to an Origin series opener in the history of the game and they just couldn't stay with the Blues until the end in a 22-12 loss.

After being blown away in the opening exchanges, the Maroons did what Queensland sides always do and hung tough.

A brilliant intercept from Valentine Holmes possibly saved his side from going down 14-0 and instead, they found themselves right back in the contest at 8-6 down.

When Dane Gagai crossed for the first try of the second half, the Maroons had a 12-8 lead and NSW supporters must have been thinking, here we go again.

However the Maroons just couldn't contain the Blues' dangerous outside backs, particularly James Tedesco, who carved them up from broken play.

The Maroons were unable to make any inroads around the Blues notoriously shaky centre defenders in Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts, who stood tall for the Blues.

Queensland were not out of it until the final five minutes, but they will need more from their forward pack and their reserves, if they are to level the series and take it to a decider in Brisbane.

We evaluate the performance of every aspect of the losing Queensland side in our Maroons' Origin I report card.


Jarrod Wallace summed up Queensland’s struggle. (Adam Head)
Jarrod Wallace summed up Queensland’s struggle. (Adam Head)


Dylan Napa led the Maroons from the front with 94 run metres and an offload to go, with 36 tackles in a typically busy display.

However his front row partner Jarrod Wallace struggled, with only 26 run metres from just three runs and he will need to get more involved, if he is picked for Game II.

Rookie hooker Andrew McCullough had a gutsy debut, topping the tackle count for the Maroons with 48 in 70 minutes, before Ben Hunt went to hooker for the final 10 minutes.

Gavin Cooper as always had a sound defensive game, but the Maroons will need more than his 56 run metres in attack, if they are to bounce back in game II.

His second row partner Felise Kaufusi was one of Queensland's best forwards in attack, running for 103 quality metres and notching up 37 tackles, but he missed a game high eight tackles, which is inexcusable for a forward.

Josh McGuire may have been coming back from a long term injury, but he was the best Maroons forward on the park.

McGuire finished with 122 run metres from 15 charges to go with 38 tackles and he kept coming at the Blues all night.

Mark: 7/10


Cameron Munster was Queensland’s most dangerous ball-runner.
Cameron Munster was Queensland’s most dangerous ball-runner.


Five-eighth Cameron Munster dominated the opening 40 minutes, with a number of decisive runs for the Maroons and was dangerous every time he touched the ball.

Munster finished with 96 run metres, three tackle busts and an offload to go with 16 tough tackles on the edge.

Maroons halfback Ben Hunt had a solid performance, but will want a few of his last-tackle options back, particularly some aimless kicks directed at Tom Trbojevic.

Hunt set up a try for Dane Gagai, but he only had 15 run metres, to go with three missed tackles and he will need to lift his level of play if the Maroons are to get back in the series.

Mark: 6/10


Greg Inglis was Queensland’s best player. Picture: Getty Images
Greg Inglis was Queensland’s best player. Picture: Getty Images


The Maroons didn't get their win, but it wasn't for want of trying from their back five, who all ran for over 100 metres.

Michael Morgan was thrust into Billy Slater's fullback spot days before the game, but he did his state proud, running for 169 run metres, with a tackle bust and three offloads in a tireless display.

Valentine Holmes was at his blistering best for the Maroons, running for 212 metres, with two tackle busts and a linebreak and he crossed for Queensland's only try of the first half.

Will Chambers knock-on thwarted a promising Maroons raid in the 20th minute and the Blues scored off the ensuing set, but he kept coming all night to finish with 113 run metres.

However Chambers missed an equal game high eight tackles and only made 13.

New Maroons skipper Greg Inglis produced a real captains knock, having the most involvement in an Origin match he has had for a couple of seasons.

Inglis ran for 119 metres, all of them quality, with six tackle busts and a linebreak, but it was his bone rattling defence that continually inspired his teammates time and time again.

Gagai picked up where he left of last series, when he was named man of the series for the Maroons.

His dislocated finger didn't seem to bother him in the slightest, as he ran for 144 run metres, with three tackle busts and a try, in another complete performance.

Mark: 8/10




Josh Papalii was a collosus off the bench for the Maroons and the blood on his nose in the first half was evidence of his total commitment to the cause.

Papalii finished with 97 run metres from only eight runs to go with 20 tackles and the Maroons will look to give him more game time in the remainder of the series, possibly in the starting line-up.

Coen Hess was picked out of form and while he didn't get a lot of opportunities, his 51 run metres was not the impact the Maroons were hoping for.

Jai Arrow was hoping to emulate his hero Gorden Tallis during the week, but he made a big mistake in getting tackled on the last play of a set in the first half, when the Blues were out on their feet.

Arrow finished with 54 run metres and 18 tackles, but will be hoping for more from himself in game II.

Anthony Milford came on late in the second half and went into the halves, with Ben Hunt shifting to hooker.

The Maroons lack of a halfback at this stage of the game hurt Milford's ability to just run and exploit weaknesses in the defence and he was poorly used by Kevin Walters.

Mark: 5/10



Few coaches would have been able to cope with the build-up the Maroons had to the series opener and Kevin Walters did the best he could, with the team he had at his disposal.

However the omission of Matt Scott came back to bite the Maroons, as Wallace failed to make an impact and while Scott hasn't been in great form, he has never let Queensland down in the past.

The Blues had all the ball early and the Maroons did well to weather the storm and go in at the break only down by two.

However Walters use of his bench and particularly using Milford and Munster in the halves at the same time and shifting Ben Hunt to hooker was a strange decision.

Walters should have used Papalii more, as he was one of the few reserves to bring energy off the bench and ignite his side in both attack and defence.

Mark: 6/10