The Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues have suffered an agonising 8-6 defeat to the Maroons in a thrilling instalment of the Ampol Women’s State of Origin at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
NSW Sky Blues centre Jessica Sergis admitted it had been a heartbreaking way to lose such a hard-fought contest.
“Yeah, especially when there’s 30 seconds left and they win with a kick but I guess that’s footy,” Sergis told the Nine Network.
“Origins are those games you want to win, and you give it your all. It was definitely fast, it’s one of the fastest games I’ve played in a really long time."
It took just four-and-a-half minutes for the Sky Blues to score points after dominating the possession battle.
After centre Isabelle Kelly was tackled five metres out on her first attempt to score, she came up trumps on the second occasion through an early ball from halfback Maddie Studdon before crashing into the defence and reaching out for the try. Lock Hannah Southwell’s conversion attempt was waved away to the right.
Queensland temporarily wrestled back field position after the opening minutes, but failed to find points as they turned over the ball on consecutive forays into the 20-metre zone.
Moments later NSW missed an opportunity for a second four-pointer which came from a last-tackle kick. The potential try was disallowed due to a knock-on in the act of scoring.
Soon after the Blues also suffered a key casualty from what was a physical battle, as Southwell was forced from the field with an ankle injury in the 12th minute.
The contest quickly turned back into Queensland’s favour when they received two quick penalties from dangerous tackles.
The hosts would ultimately make the most of the opportunity in the 23rd minute as hooker Destiny Brill dived over from dummy-half. Lauren Brown kicked the goal to put Queensland two point ahead.
While the rain continued to fall in difficult conditions, the 6-4 score remained until halftime as the two sides struggled to maintain possession.
The opening to the second half saw another 15 minutes surpass without points being scored – the defensive displays of both teams simply not allowing it.
However, the Blues managed to equalise at the 52-minute mark after drawing a penalty in front of the uprights. Without hesitation Studdon opted for the two points and had no problems off the boot, bringing the score-line to six-all.
As the match entered the final 20 minutes it truly became a middle-third battle with the two sides refusing to give up field position.
Queensland looked to have broken the deadlock when Tamika Upton crossed the line on the left-hand side in the 63rd minute, but it was soon taken away because of an obstruction.
With less than five minutes remaining the Queenslanders had another chance to come up with a result, and captain Ali Brigginshaw forced a vital dropout at the end of the set.
In the dying moments the Maroons were back in scoring range before earning a penalty in front of the posts. Brown proceeded to convert for an 8-6 lead.
A last gasp short kick-off attempt wasn’t enough for NSW to cause a late turnover, which ended a thrilling contest that proved to be the ultimate test of attrition throughout 70 minutes.
The Sky Blues didn’t just have to overcome injuries to Tiana Penitani (knee), while Hannah Southwell (ankle) and Sarah Togatuki (HIA) also spent time off the field, but also made too many errors (15) in the wet conditions.
“I don’t want to blame the weather but it’s been raining non-stop today and that ball’s wet and we knew that but just silly errors and missed opportunities,” Sergis said.
“That’s footy and Queensland were too smart and got the win.”