NSW captain Boyd Cordner had to fight back tears as he struggled to comprehend how his Blues threw away a State of Origin series win on Wednesday night.
Up 1-0 in the series, the Blues led by four points with four minutes remaining when Queensland centre Dane Gagai scored to give Johnathan Thurston a chance to nail his game-winning conversion.
A shattered Cordner admitted his men were guilty of ill-discipline in the second half.
“We worked really hard in the first half to put ourselves in a position to be up by ten points, I thought we came out in the second half really good and I thought we applied some pressure again,” Cordner said.
But what the Blues couldn’t do was continue to apply that pressure as they failed to complete several sets properly, giving up a number of seven-tackle opportunities.
“I just felt like we gave Queensland too much cheap ball. There was a stage in the second half where we weren’t finishing the sets the way we wanted to,” he said.
“It felt like we were getting on top, then gave away a cheap penalty for them out of yardage.
“If you do that in Origin, especially against Queensland, give them too much quality ball, they’ll make you pay like they did tonight.
“There was some positive signs there for us but it’s just so disappointing. To work so hard, and then to come down to that and get beat like that, it hurts.”
Cordner urged his teammates to use the defeat as motivation, and take solace from their game one effort in Brisbane ahead of what looms as a tough task in game three.
Queensland will now enjoy the advantage of hosting the final Origin game for Johnathan Thurston, and possibly Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
The latter pair have yet to decide whether they will continue playing NRL next year.
“It’s hard, but that’s the beauty of winning game one, we put ourselves in a position now to take it to game three,” Cordner said.
“Especially game one and how we performed up there, we know we can do it again. Stay tight, let it burn, let it hurt, get back together and we’ll be ready to go again.”