Much has been made of Hynes’ poor kicking execution en route to being dropped for Mitchell Moses, and the dumped No.7’s first attacking effort unfortunately set the tone.

Zac Lomax floating in-field early to chase Hynes’ grubber points to a deliberate tactic, not necessarily a bad one. But Queensland and Walsh had it covered in any case. The play just wasn’t on.

From the resulting seven-tackle set, the Maroons went 80 metres for Ben Hunt to score – Queensland beating the Blues at their much-vaunted game plan in the process.

NSW picked a big, powerful backline with an on-paper advantage coming out of trouble. Which is exactly what Queensland did from Hynes’s error.

Xavier Coates, Valentine Holmes and then Lindsay Collins produced strong, bullocking runs in behind the Blues markers, generating increasingly faster play-the-balls and momentum.

By the set’s end, Jarome Luai was isolated on the right edge, Daly Cherry-Evans was doing what he pleased and Hunt was over.

The very next set, Suaalii was sent from the field, and Queensland ran riot targeting the right edge he had occupied. A 20-6 lead after 23 minutes could have been more.

The 12-man dominance

Once Stephen Crichton switched edges and plugged the Suaalii hole, albeit 25 minutes too late, the Blues found their feet.

Spencer Leniu nearly found the line before halftime, and after the break, it was all NSW as they absorbed Queensland’s one-man advantage.

“Attacking-wise, obviously, it’s hard when they’ve got an extra man out there, so the effort areas are what you can really control in that situation,” hooker Reece Robson said.

“Those plays like kick chases, getting back into the line, that was the real focus of our halftime chat.”

The very first set of the second half, NSW ball-runners went searching for smaller men Cherry-Evans and Harry Grant.

Quick play-the-balls and momentum allowed Jarome Luai to hoist a bomb that ended with Coates being buried in his in-goal, though the next two sets point to the strong, steady hand NSW need Moses to take in Origin II.

The Blues had all the running even though they were down to 12, yet Hynes especially appeared rudderless directing the NSW attack in these plays.

Plays repeatedly broke down as ball-runners halted and faltered. Luai’s skipping across field, with what’s known as ‘Jimmy Legs’ in Seinfeld parlance, eventually generated momentum.

And to his credit, Hynes’ best play of the night followed – a pinpoint cross field kick for Lomax to score.

“You can rescue a bad set with a great kick,” was Andrew Johns’ summation in commentary.

NSW were trailing 20-10, but dominating with a 75 share of possession in the first 10 minutes of the half.

“It shows if we’re willing to go set for set and compete and take it down to the championship rounds playing the long game [it can work]. We did it with 12 and it gives you some confidence,” Jake Trbojevic said.

Holmes was hammered into an error and taking up the tone set by Suaalii, Dearden was repeatedly found by Blues ball-runners.

Despite playing with only 12 men, NSW did a commendable job of targeting Queensland’s playmakers in defence.

The Maroons small man quartet of Dearden, Cherry-Evans, Hunt and Grant had to make 103 tackles, one more than the Blues frontline spine members Luai, Hynes and Robson.

Lomax was especially strong on this front, repeatedly finding Dearden and Cherry-Evans.

Haumole Olakau’atu also looked to line up Dearden one-on-one, who responded with a telling break of his own in what was all-in-all, a brilliant performance from Queensland’s halves.

The circuit breaker

NSW held the upper hand throughout one of those famed Origin lung-busting stretches, when there wasn’t a single stoppage between the 47th and 55th minutes.

They would have kept it, too, if Hynes’s 40/20 attempt hadn’t been thwarted by Coates.

Man-of-the-match Cherry-Evans stole the advantage back three tackles later, with his barking and cajoling of his forwards in the next set heard over the TV coverage.

On the third tackle the Maroons skipper is at first receiver, a tiring Blues defensive line isn’t on him and he’s booting back across his body with a 40/20 of his own.

Queensland didn’t score for another 11 minutes thanks to desperate defensive plays by Robson to deny Jeremiah Nanai and James Tedesco foiling a Murray Taulagi kick chase.

Liam Martin even produced the type of Origin play that makes old footballers misty-eyed when he belted J’maine Hopgood actually out of the next Origin, Martin’s hit triggering a nerve issue in the Queensland rookie’s back.

A minute later, a cracking pace and one-man disadvantage finally broke the Blues too. Two long breaks through a disjointed, exhausted defensive line yielded Hunt’s second try and a blown out final score.

But Michael Maguire wasn’t wrong when he insisted there was plenty to work with from the Blues effort’s in Origin I. If they can do it in a 13-on-13 contest, they might just live to see another day.

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