It’s been a truly remarkable year for Golden Boot winner Isabelle Kelly.
It’s easy to forget that she only donned the Jillaroos jersey for the first time in 2017 given her dominance on the representative stage.
She thrives in a team environment in highly successful state and international outfits. While Rugby League is a team sport and group success is the ultimate goal, it’s impossible to ignore what Kelly has personally achieved in the space of a year.
To sum it up, she scored two tries in every game for Australia and NSW.
Women’s Rugby League World Cup
November 26, 2017
Semi-Final v Canada – two tries
The Jillaroos cruised their way into the World Cup Final late last year with a 58-6 win over Canada.
Kelly was rested in the Jillaroos’ 88-0 thumping of the same side just a few days prior, but came back with a two-try showing in the semi-final.
Caitlin Moran put up a pinpoint kick to which Kelly collected out wide for her first, before she weaved past three defenders shortly afterwards to collect a double.
Little did she know that scoring two tries would become her trend for the next 12 months.
Women’s Rugby League World Cup
December 2, 2017
Final v New Zealand - two tries
As far as international matches go, the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup Final was one of the toughest.
By far the top two teams of the tournament, Australia and New Zealand traded leads for the entire game. It would be Moran that sealed the deal in the 79th minute with a field goal to which Australia won a tough contest 23-16.
Kelly, once again, topped the scoresheet.
While the Kiwis dominated early, Kelly was the first to trouble the scorekeeper when she found space down the left edge.
With the teams going try-for-try, the eventual Golden Boot winner stepped up to the plate once again. Ali Brigginshaw placed a grubber threw that sat up perfectly for Kelly, who then zigzagged past fullback Apii Nicholls-Pualau to score her second try.
It turned out to be a pivotal moment for the Jillaroos as Elianna Walton crashed over shortly afterwards to create a two-try lead, which was enough to prevent New Zealand from clawing their way back.
2018 Women’s State of Origin
June 22, 2018
NSW v Queensland – two tries (including match-winner), player of the match
Former State of Origin legends including Brad Fittler and Danny Buderus have said in the past that winning the moments is the key to winning State of Origin.
When the pivotal moment arose on June 22, Isabelle Kelly stepped up.
It was 10-all with five minutes remaining. The atmosphere at North Sydney Oval was electric and both sides were giving it to each other.
Sam Bremner – as threatening as ever – skipped across-field with the ball in hand trying to find space somewhere down the left-side of the field. She eventually passed the ball to Kelly, who had two defenders sliding across that would have pushed her into touch if she went for the corner.
Instead, she sharply stepped off her left foot to beat the first defender, then burned the other by changing direction once again. From there all she had to do was reach out with four defenders desperately trying to stop her, but nobody could.
She planted the ball down for what was her second try of the night and Maddie Studdon calmly booted the conversion from out wide. The score remained 16-10 and the Blues won the inaugural women’s State of Origin clash.
Kelly was named player of the match, but more importantly was part of the team who got to hold the shield for the first time.
2018 Women’s International
October 13, 2018
Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos - two tries (including match-winner)
Alike like the World Cup final almost a year ago, Australia and New Zealand traded blows for the entire game.
Alike State of Origin, Isabelle Kelly stepped up when someone needed to step up.
It was 18-all with 17 minutes remaining. In a game with plenty of highlights, Kelly delivered undoubtedly the try of the afternoon.
She picked the ball up from dummy half well inside her own half when nothing was on. Nita Maynard got her body in front of her but Kelly brushed her away, burst through the line, and palmed off the fullback to score an incredible 75-metre try.
The Kiwis hit back four minutes later and the Jillaroos were once again behind on the scoreboard.
A right-side shift and some quick hands from all involved created an overlap and Kelly strolled over to once again with a tick over five minutes remaining score the match-winning try.
A few weeks after the match she was awarded the inaugural women’s Golden Boot for being the best player in the world at the international level.