The Harvey Norman NSW Under 19s Women’s Origin team have successfully defended their State of Origin title after defeating the Maroons 16-12 in a blockbuster clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Friday night.
The match also marked the first representative state pathways fixture to be played since 2019 after last year’s COVID-affected season.
The Blues’ Luisa Yaranamua earned Player of the Match honours after a superb start to the contest, scoring the opening try and setting up the second for Blake Cavallaro’s side.
The two sides struggled for territory in the opening ten minutes with neither outfit seeing any real scoring opportunities early on.
In the 12th minute, however, it was the Blues who would take the early advantage after earning a penalty in the attacking ten-metre zone.
Shifting to the right-hand side early in the set, five-eighth Yaranamua took on the Queensland defence herself and muscled her way over the line for the first points of the night. Rueben Cherrington failed to convert to leave the score at 4-0.
Five minutes later the Maroons came within touching distance of the try-line, but a fifth-tackle grubber rolled over the dead ball area to hand possession back to NSW.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Queensland conceded another penalty – with ball-in-hand – in their own half allowing the Blues an opportunity to extend their lead before halftime.
The Blues did exactly that and again Yaranamua was heavily involved in the try, latching onto an offload from five metres out before throwing a pinpoint cut-out pass for Teagan Berry to score.
With the halftime whistle approaching the Maroons were desperate to get on the scoresheet before the break, and they received a chance in the 29th minute after a NSW error in their own red zone.
Within a matter of seconds the Queenslanders were able to cross the stripe through back-rower Sara Sautia on the left edge. Second row forward Zoe Cook converted from out wide as the siren sounded to leave the Blues clinging to a 10-6 lead at halftime.
The Maroons continued their momentum in the early exchanges of the second half, finding themselves in attacking position in the 33rd minute before Hannah Larsson charged at a gap in the defensive line to score untouched beside the posts. Cook converted her second goal for to give Queensland a 12-10 lead.
The ensuing 13 minutes of the match saw points at a premium as both sides made handling errors close to the line before NSW were presented a chance in the 45th minute with a scrum on their own 10-metre line.
Enter Teagan Berry.
Halfback Tayla Montgomery threw a long ball from the feed and, within two passes, it found the hands of Berry who outpaced her opposite winger and raced away for her second try. Yaranamua took on the goalkicking duties and successfully converted for a 16-12 lead.
The Blues then attempted to push their lead further with a minute remaining, but the ball was kicked dead to give Queensland one more chance to score with seven tackles in hand.
NSW looked to be on their heels as the Maroons were tackled only metres from the try-line, before the visiting side forced an error at the play-the-ball to seal the four-point win and spark wild celebrations.