The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s team has won the inaugural Women’s State of Origin match thanks to a match-winning try with five minutes remaining by Isabelle Kelly.
Kelly was outstanding all night for the Blues, scoring two tries and posing as a constant threat to Queensland in the centres. Maddie Studdon controlled the game beautifully, with her kicking game a large part of why NSW will be the first time.
A huge defensive play from the Blues gave them the first opportunity of the match, but a scrum play went wrong as Isabelle Kelly’s pass to Nakia Davis-Welsh was put down with the try-line in sight.
Déjà vu was then felt around North Sydney Oval, as the ball was forced free the following set, and the Blues attacked down the left once again. This time they were more successful; with Kelly finishing off a set play and scoring the first ever Women’s State of Origin try.
Queensland hit straight back off the back of a penalty, with Karina Brown scoring off the back of some awareness by Brittany Breayley, noticing that her winger was unmarked and she scored in the corner.
The Maroons had the next few chances to attack, but the blue wall held strong and continually shut down what was thrown at them. Kezie Apps looked to have scored next for NSW, but after a massive dummy that saw her stroll over the line, the try was pulled back and Queensland awarded the ball.
It’s rare for a player like Davis-Welsh to make a mistake like she did early in the game, and when handed the opportunity again, she would certainly not do the same thing. NSW set up for a clinical right-to-left shift that went almost the entire width of the field, and the speed-star found herself with the ball once again. With plenty of work to do, she beat two defenders and stepped in-field to score and give NSW a 10-6 lead.
A classy show-and-go by Ali Brigginshaw locked up the scores once again and she created a gap for herself and then passed for Brown to score her second try of the evening.
The moment of the match came with five minutes to play, with a Maddie Studdon kick was charged-down and the Blues received six again. With a fresh set of six, NSW spread it right to Kelly, who had to burst through multiple defenders to score the match-winning try, much to the delight of the crowd.
The win means NSW has now won three interstate clashes in a row, but are the first team to win under the State of Origin banner.