Brad Fittler claims difference in the speed of the ruck cost NSW dearly

Brad Fittler has attributed the Blues downfall in game one of State of Origin to a slow ruck speed, after his side were often unable to create momentum in their attack during a 16-10 defeat to an impressive Queensland outfit.

In a classic match that was played at a frantic pace, New South Wales looked devoid of ideas at times as they struggled to break down the Maroons excellent scrambling defence.

“It was a high-pace game – it’s always like that,” Fittler said in his post-match press conference.

“They won the ruck and they did a really good job there… We should have done a better job. We should have held them down longer. Simple.

“They got in tight and held on and Ashley [Klein] didn’t want to give penalties away… They worked hard there and definitely won the ruck,” he said.

In a chaotic beginning to the game, Isaah Yeo came slumping out of a tackle after colliding with Josh Papalii on the first hit-up. However, he remained on the field despite wobbling on his way back to the line.

“We didn’t actually get a hold of it,” Fittler revealed.

“Our TV was playing up in the box. So, I didn’t get a look at it.”

NSW were actually the first to draw blood, when Jarome Luai sent Jack Wighton crashing over from close-range.

Their four-point lead was snuffed out though after Selwyn Cobbo measured a grubber for Dane Gagai to score.

“I felt like our first half was really good,” the Blues captain James Tedesco said.

“We got over the line a couple of times and had a few disallowed. And then they sort of got one against the run of play which was disappointing.”

Kalyn Ponga threw a questionable pass in the lead up and it wasn’t the only Queensland try that Fittler had a problem with.

“Junior Paulo was held in the scrum. So, it will be interesting to speak to [referee’s boss] Jared Maxwell and get his view on the ball going forward and Paulo being held,” he said.

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In the second stanza, Billy Slater’s youthful side were able to pile on more points and get away from the Blues – at one stage holding a 12-point advantage with 10 minutes remaining.

Tedesco claimed the Maroons ability to slow down NSW’s ruck speed while having a quick one for themselves is what allowed them to post two tries in quick succession.

“Harry Grant had the quick ruck and was getting out,” he said.

“[Cameron] Munster and [Daly] Chery-Evans were playing off the back of that. They dominated our ruck and created opportunities. We didn’t do enough of that.”

Tedesco went into detail about the issues the Blues backline had in manufacturing openings, as space became severely limited.

“We were going one-out to a spot to try and create a play. We weren’t pushing for each other on that play to create a quick ruck… It was a bit too one-out, then trying to play something off that.

“There were no penalties. So, they were probably holding us down for an extra second. And that didn’t allow us the freedom we wanted to play with,” he said.

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After suffering defeat in the series opener, NSW face the daunting prospect of having to win the third game in enemy territory if they are to retain the shield.

“If you lose the first one, you’re up against it,” Fittler said.

“So, we’ll travel to Perth – have a week preparation for that – and then obviously we’ve got to win it in Queensland.”

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