The NSW Blues stumbled to a shock defeat in Game 1 of the 2020 State of Origin series.
Heavily favoured for the match and series, Brad Fittler’s men looked flat in the second half and were unable to respond to Queensland’s dominance in the second period.
Here’s how each of the Blues rated.
1. James Tedesco: 7
His footwork really troubled Queensland close to the line, but the Maroons’ excellent field kicking limited his impact in the second half. Made more running metres than anyone else on the park.
2. Daniel Tupou: 6
Tupou was strong running the ball back, but was completely at fault for the Maroons’ final try, forcing an offload when it just wasn’t on. Queensland kicked away from him in the second half, giving him less chance to impact the game.
3. Clint Gutherson: 4
Laid the final pass for Josh Addo-Carr’s two tries, but was found wanting defensively in an unfamiliar position. Kurt Capewell had a day out attacking down Gutherson’s channel. Might a specialist centre be a better way to go for Fittler?
4. Jack Wighton: 3
Wighton was strong running the ball into contact and… that’s about it. Almost missed as many tackles as he made.
5. Josh Addo-Carr: 8
Came up with some excellent defensive reads in the first half despite playing on his less-preferred wing. Was the Blues’ most dangerous player in attack all night, and finished with two tries to his name.
6. Luke Keary: 5
Made a couple of nice runs, but other than that Keary couldn’t influence the game in attack. Queensland ran a lot of traffic his way, and you can bet they’ll do the same in Game 2.
7. Nathan Cleary: 5
Like his halves partner, Cleary just didn’t take hold of the game, and is yet to show he has what it takes to really control a match at Origin level. On a night when Queensland’s halves did just that, his influence was sorely missed.
8. Daniel Saifiti: 8
Gave away a couple of silly penalties, but was otherwise a brute for NSW. No Blues forward ran for more metres than Saifiti, and he didn’t miss a single tackle.
9. Damien Cook: 6
Speaking of tackles, Cook made plenty of them – 52, in fact. But while he came up with the game-opening try, he didn’t provide much impact around the ruck after halftime, at a time when the Blues really could have done with some easy metres. Throw in a couple of errors at the start of the game and it was far from Cook’s best effort.
10. Junior Paulo: 7
A solid night for Paulo on debut. The big prop was strong in contact and got away a couple of nice offloads to open up some space in attack.
11. Boyd Cordner: 6
Cornder made a dent in the Queensland line running the ball, but of far more concern was the dent Felise Kaufusi’s forearm made to the Blues skipper’s head. He was able to return to the field after passing his HIA, and you can only hope, particularly given his history, that he doesn’t suffer any delayed concussion symptoms.
12. Tyson Frizell: 7
Frizell was a machine in defence, making 44 tackles without missing a single one. Didn’t offer a hell of a lot running the ball, though.
13. Jake Trbojevic: 8
On of the Blues’ best. Trbojevic finished atop the side’s tackle count alongside Cook with 52, and NSW looked their most dangerous when he distributed in and around the ruck. They’d dearly love to have his brother out there with him.
14. Cody Walker: 6
Walker was the most dangerous NSW half by some distance, yet his bench role meant the Blues just didn’t get enough out of him. You have to think he either has to start or go out of the side entirely.
15. Payne Haas: 6
Didn’t play many minutes, but was good in the 25 he was on the field both with the ball and without it.
16. Cameron Murray: N/A
Murray went down with injury making his first run of the game. While it sounds like it’s not a knee injury – as was initially feared – a hamstring strain will likely keep him out of the rest of the series.
17. Angus Crichton: 5
Made a solid 31 tackles, but didn’t have much of an impact in attack.