Despite a crowd that was a sea of Maroon supporters jerseys, it only made the tsunami victory of the New South Wales Blues over Queensland much more sweeter.
New South Wales (NSW) launched an assault on Queensland (QLD) which saw them claim a 50-6 win inside enemy territory at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
New South Wales celebrate their win over Queesnland in Townsville. Credit: Facebook.com/NRL
The AMPOL State of Origin series opener saw `NSW player Nathan Clearly score the first points with a penalty goal between the posts, after Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans attempted to block Tom Trbojevic from receiving a high ball.
Trbojevic would have his payback minutes later, scoring the first try in the first 20 minutes.
Just before the 22nd minute came Damien Cook, who broke the Maroons line to offload to captain James Tedesco. A tackle later, the next play would see Penrith Panthers star Brian To'o score on the left wing to extend the NSW lead.
Not even five minutes later, NSW debutant To'o scored in the same spot again after receiving a long offload from teammate Tariq Sims.
It was in the 34th minute that QLD finally had a response by way of Kurt Capewell scoring a four-pointer on his team's left side.
That would be the only points on the board for the Maroons side. And the next half was about to get worse for them.
Blue tsunami rolls into Townsville
'Tommy Turbo' Trbojevic would prove to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half, setting up a try-assist kick for centre Latrell Mitchell to score again for NSW.
'Turbo' would also score his second four-pointer moments later under the posts. Five-eighth Jerome Luai would break through the ranks, passing to Mitchell and then eventually to Trbojevic in a thrilling near-60 metre play of footy.
The pain never stopped coming. Latrell Mitchell picked up a second try for NSW, then prop Daniel Saifiti went under the posts and Tommy Turbo claimed a hat trick [and Man of the Match] to make the end score 50-6.
The Maroons tried one last desperate move to lessen their pain in the last five minutes. A kick from Chery-Evans would see winger Xavier Coates catch the high ball back to Dane Gagai, but Brian To'o and lock Issah Yeo from NSW stopped him just short of the line.
In the end, NSW were right to celebrate their victory, and the Maroons can only look to turn the tide at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 27.
"We got a few things wrong."
Captain and coach reflect on a disappointing loss. Credit: YouTube.com/NRL on Nine
Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, after the game, said, “Obviously to rock up and play like we did tonight, we've got a few things wrong,
“Not just the execution tonight but probably in the way we prepared, so we've got a bit of time to think about it and the right people to fix it.”
“I know the scoreline reflects pretty poorly on us but it is only 1-0, but we'll get it right, sort it out and go back to our clubs and start building it back together.”
Even debuting Maroons coach Paul Green admitted he will assess his methods before the two sides meet again.
“It's a new group in some respects, a new coach so what I might have let go through the week, in terms of execution. I may not have if I'd had a bit more experience with them,” he said.
“It's about learning from it and making sure we don't let it happen again.”
“Tonight's damage was pretty big, but it's only 1-0 and it's two games to go.
“We can turn the tide but they have a lot of momentum in their corner so we have a lot of work to do.”
The series isn't done
Fittler and Tedesco speak to media after crushing win. Credit: YouTube.com/NRL on Nine
Despite the emphatic win, Blues coach Brad Fittler isn't singing series-winning lyrics just yet.
“This is Game One, I think that one was Game Three so it's a big difference,” Fittler said.
“I'm quite aware winning a game by 50 here in the first game doesn't mean anything.”
Looking back historically, NSW have lost their last four games at Suncorp Stadium and haven't had a series win there since 2005.
“That's the challenge. This [Game One] is over now so the challenge is Suncorp. That's the goal ahead of us.”
Skipper James Tedesco echoed words similar to his coach.
“They [Queensland] are going to be hurting, they will be a different team game two,” captain Tedesco said.
“Last year we lost Game One and came out firing Game Two so I'm sure it will be similar.
“It's going to be a challenge. I know it was a convincing win but, as Freddy said, we have to win two more.”