The Sky Blues have emerged victorious after five minutes of mayhem — which included two bunker calls — threatened to overshadow an entralling women’s Origin contest.
NSW have kicked their way to winning back the Women’s State of Origin shield in a nail-biting clash that never looked over until the final siren ended in a 20-14 finish.
The match had everything you could hope from Origin — a record 12,000-strong crowd, a bloodied Maroon in the first five minutes, a failed head injury assessment on Jillaroo Steph Hancock, and controversial disallowed tries on each side in the final 10.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.
ORIGIN PLAYER RATINGS: STAR’S NEAR-PERFECT NIGHT
FIVE MINUTES OF MAYHEM
A questionable bunker call in the final five minutes of the game disallowed a NSW try that looked to seal the match.
Moments later, Sky Blue hearts were in throats as Queensland’s Keely Roberts snatched a kick bomb from Ali Brigginshaw and looked like she had scored, but the bunker replay showed Roberts was at least five metres offside from the kick.
“The try was scored and I was deflated straight away. I thought, they’re gonna win this, Queensland has done it again. But I knew the (NSW) girls had it in them, we just had to stick to our processes, trust each other,” said NSW coach Kylie Hilder.
The Sky Blues finally iced the win via unstoppable prop Caitlan Johnston, who went crashing into the Maroons’ line before a quick-play-the-ball sent Isabelle Kelly to try.
SHAKING THE QUEENSLAND CURSE
The match started with ghosts of last year as Chelsea Lenarduzzi won a penalty against an onslaught of NSW momentum in the first 10 minutes and was the final tackle before Queensland drew first blood through Destiny Brill.
When her team was down by six in the second half, Lenarduzzi again set up the Maroons to score through former rugby union star Evania Pelite on the left edge.
But it was Queensland’s year to miss in the kicking game — the Maroons squandering two from three chances.
Meanwhile NSW converted two and scored two penalties off the boot of Rachael Pearson.
“We just couldn’t capitalise on opportunities,” admitted Maroons coach, former Jillaroo Tahnee Norris.
“It was a rollercoaster and disappointing to come away with a loss. To see the girls put in so much effort, it really hurts.”
The much-hyped dual Olympian and joint-Dally M medallist Emma Tonegato brought the creativity of her former Rugby Sevens career with immediate impact.
Thirteen minutes in, she scored a try off a dirty bobbling ball from the boot of Keely Davis, reeling in the bounce and grounding it cleanly inches before flying out.
She continued making line breaks and crucial tackles throughout the match, running for 145m.
CENTRES OF ATTENTION
The NRLW premiership-winning combination of Sydney Roosters Isabelle Kelly and Jessica Sergis was equally lively with 192 and 132 run metres respectively.
Kelly was deserving player of the match, relishing every tackle opportunity as she steamed to the Maroons’ line and made post-contact metres with the ball in hand. She finished with 11 tackle busts — a record for any women’s State of Origin game.
“She’s testing Qld on every play, every play there’s a question being asked,” legendary NSW coach Phil Gould said during the broadcast.
Coach Hilder said: “Every time Issy comes out and plays a game — that’s how she performs. She gives her all and I’m just so lucky she plays in my side and I get to coach her.”
Originally published as Women’s State of Origin 2022: NSW Sky Blues defeat Queensland Maroons in nailbiter