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Despondent Smith and Cronk look ahead to game two

Match Report: Fifita stars as Blues smash MaroonsPlayer Ratings: How New South Wales faredPlayer Ratings: How Queensland fared
Nanjing Night Net

After one of the more shocking Origin results in recent memory, Queensland’s senior players were frank in their assessment of the Maroons’ performance.

Fresh off missing a combined 58 tackles as a team and being thoroughly outplayed, Queensland skipper Cameron Smith pulled no punches.

“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “The Blues played with a lot of energy tonight and you can’t afford to give up cheap points like we did tonight.

“Our defence let us down tonight. We just didn’t have enough energy around the middle early.”

The veteran of 40 Origin games said it was “back to the drawing board” as Kevin Walters’ men were left searching for answers in a crushing loss.

“The challenge gets a little bit harder now,” Smith said. “We travel to Sydney next game and it’s a must-win for us.”

Smith’s fellow Melbourne Storm star Cooper Cronk was more philosophical, giving credit to NSW.

“That was one of the toughest halves of football I’ve played in a long time, that first half,” he said.

Despite a host of key personnel missing for the Maroons – Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston due to injury, and Billy Slater not selected – Cronk made no excuses.

“I thought we had a red-hot crack, and sometimes you’ve just gotta tip your hat to the opposition – they were really good tonight.,” he said.

“There’s no excuses. We just didn’t have those moments to give us the ascendancy in the match.”

Kevin Walters agreed, praising the opposition rather than pointing the finger at his own troops.

“I thought in the first half we competed really well, but there were some telling signs,” he said.

“They were too strong, they played really well … way too good for us tonight.”

He found special praise for the Blues’ defence, which was stout right until the final whistle, particularly in a pair of second-half moments where Josh Dugan and James Tedesco produced try-saving tackles.

“A couple of times we got close to scoring, but they somehow found a body there, particularly the Matt Gillett one,” Walters said.

“That was a really thorough performance from the Blues … I’m sure that we’ll bounce back and make a contest of it.”

The series shifts to ANZ Stadium in the three weeks with the Blues looking to claim their first series win since 2014 and just their second since 2006.

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