Dane Gagai of the Maroons scores the winning try.
Dane Gagai of the Maroons scores the winning try. Cameron Spencer

NSW Blues were the better team but you can never write off champions

ABOUT 31 minutes into last night's game we were ready to write QLD's death notice.

The greatest half-back of all time Johnathon Thurston kicked into touch on the full.

NSW was ahead 16-6. We start to think father time has finally got to them.

Future immortals don't kick out on the full. Not on this stage

Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk were struggling to dominate too.

But we should have known better. The Maroons are never done. Never.

A disappointed Josh Dugan after the match.

Dane Gagai scores early in the second-half. It's game on again as Thurston converts and the Maroons are now just four points behind.

They keep surging and surging. Like all champions defending a title do.

Gagai scores again with three just three minutes on the clock.

The Blues defence, so magnificent for 77 minutes, just couldn't hold on.

It was one of those cruel results. Absolute heartbreak.

Your columnist thought the Blues were the better side on the night.

The referees were of no assistance. Every 50/50 decision went QLD's way.

Dane Gagai crosses the line to bring Queensland back in the game.

It was like they were the home team such were some of the calls.

So where to now for the NSW Blues who face the monumental challenge of trying to win the series in front of a packed house at Suncorp on July 12?

There will be no empty seats this time and the Maroons will be pumped up like never before.

What changes do the Blues make?

Obviously not too many because this 17-man squad was so impressive in the first game.

That's not to say Turbo Tom Trbojevic doesn't have claims.

The same with Matty Moylan who has been playing the house down at five-eighth for the Penrith Panthers.

Whatever happens you know NSW will fight back.

If they won at Suncorp in Game 1 - albeit against a weaker Maroons outfit - there is nothing to say they can't do it again.

They'll just have to play stronger than Wednesday night and lift to another level.

It's going to take one phenomenal effort. But we can do it.

We showed that in the first half.

The Blues had some wonderful players in the first half. Josh Jackson the man of the match. Dave Klemmer was simply outstanding. He looked like Glenn Lazarus.

Manly Sea Eagles forward Jake Trbojevic also did his bit.

His inside pass to James Tedesco to set-up Mitchell Pearce try showed class and quality.

But it was his tackle on Cooper Cronk in the dying seconds of the first half that was his highlight.

Cronk looked certain to score. He had full speed up. Just metres from the line.

Somehow Trbojevic stopped him.

But it wasn't enough on the night.

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