NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr admitted the Blues need to improve their left edge defensive combination and kicking game in Origin II after two second-half tries by Dane Gagai secured an 18-14 win for the Maroons in the series opener.
The Blues must win the historic Origin in Perth on June 23 to prevent Queensland from securing the series before NSW host the final game at ANZ Stadium and Brad Fittler’s men have a lot to work on.
The combination of Addo-Carr, centre Latrell Mitchell, second-rower Boyd Cordner and five-eighth Cody Walker was disjointed and only some scrambling defence prevented Queensland from scoring more tries on their right edge.
The Blues also struggled to get out of their own end in the second half, with halfback Nathan Cleary often forced to kick from inside his own half as Queensland dominated field position and possession.
Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues
“It was very disappointing, we wanted to start the second half the best we could but they built pressure down our end and we just didn’t get an effective kick away,” Addo-Carr said.
“We didn’t play enough football down their end. It just came down to not building pressure and not getting a good kick away. That’s what we have got to fix.”
Mitchell had a night to forget and received 10 minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul but Addo-Carr said no single player or incident was to blame for the Blues defeat.
“It was just some things that some of us individuals did, including myself and I’m sure the other boys as well, in just not working together in our defensive line,” he said.
“If we stop that we will definitely be a better footy side, and we did save a couple of tries but it would have made it heaps easier if we had worked together.”
The Blues managed to hold Queensland out while Mitchell was in the bin until Gagai intercepted a pass from Jack Wighton, who had replaced Walker at five-eighth, and ran 95 metres to score just as the NSW centre was waiting to return to the game in the 68th minute.
Addo-Carr clocked a game high 35.9 kilometres per hour in pursuit of Gagai, whose top speed was 33.8 kph, but he could not stop him scoring the try which put the Maroons ahead for the first time in the match.
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“That’s what Origin is about and you have got to take those opportunities,” Addo-Carr said of Gagai.
“He is a quality player but we made it hard on ourselves by not playing good footy in the second half. We wanted to play boring footy but effective footy.
When we did we ask questions we scored a quick try when Jake Trbojevic went over. That’s all we have got to fix, we have got to move on now and get ready for Game II.”