Despite possessing the ball for 53% of the game and outrunning their opponents by almost 200m, the Blues struggled in attack. As the clock winded down to just 11 minutes to go and NSW leading 18-16 with Queensland disadvantaged with injuries and a sin binning, the Maroons roared back into the match and secured a 26-18 victory. Johns was left fuming at the result, calling the attack “terrible” during a post-game rant on Channel Nine’s coverage.
According to Johns, NSW had plenty of momentum and possession and should have scored, particularly with so much field position and momentum. Johns criticised the players’ inability to put away a determined Maroons side, especially when they were down on personnel. He lauded Queensland’s scramble and defensive efforts throughout the match while suggesting that NSW could be better.
Despite the disappointing result, Johns doesn’t expect many changes to the team, with Game 1’s squad set to embrace the challenge of taking on Queensland at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Johns urged the team to give it their all and rise to the challenge with the crowd behind the Maroons. Media personality and former rugby league player Alex McKinnon was critical of NSW’s approach, saying that their style of play was restrictive and relied too heavily on the team’s No.13.
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler acknowledged the team fell apart in the last 10 minutes of the game, proving costly in the end. Though they were in control, Fittler said they didn’t handle the situation well and that’s what lost them the match. Fittler will analyze what went wrong to ensure that the team is better-prepared in the next game.