Blues pass pressure test in new Origin era

Scott Bailey

New era, new NSW.

In Monday's pre-match media conference, Blues coach Brad Fittler admitted he couldn't be sure the least-experienced NSW State of Origin team in 37 years wouldn't crack under pressure.

On Wednesday night, he had his answer.

The Blues' record 11 rookies barely put a foot wrong in their 22-12 win.

They looked dangerous in attack and, for all the questions about their defence, they missed less than half the amount of tackles Queensland did.

Fittler - whose new-age ways attracted so much interest this week - ditched the suit for a neat and casual crew-neck jumper in the coach's box.

And his players reflected it on the field.

They withstood an early Queensland attack, but found themselves behind 12-8 early in the second half despite dominating much of the match.

Blues teams of the past would have cracked. This was about the time where they'd let the renowned Queenslander spirit to take over.

But not this relaxed mob.

While the Maroons didn't have Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk or injured Billy Slater to fall back on, the Blues held their nerve to score the last three tries.

What would have pleased Fittler most was his rookies looked no less at home in the Origin arena in front of 87,122 fans as they had for their clubs.

Rookie Damien Cook gave the Blues their first try in the 22nd minute when he darted out of dummy-half and created space. He found James Maloney who sent the Blues' best in James Tedesco over.

Rookies Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr all scored in the second half - each with the kind of football that had made them world beaters at NRL level.

Mitchell's try was all strength and power, agile Trbojevic's from a massive leap and Addo-Carr's the match-sealer with his acrobatics out wide.

Before Wednesday night, NSW had topped 20 points just five times since the start of Queensland's run in 2006.

In Fittler's first game in charge, the Blues did just that - scoring 10 more points than they averaged under Laurie Daley despite having two tries denied late.

And they did it all with their rookies making just three handling errors between them.

It's hard to judge how the next era looks based on one match. After all, the Maroons lost the first game in 2006 but still won the series and kick-started a dynasty.

But given 70 per cent of teams who win Game I go on to win the series, Fittler will like what he's seen.