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NSW too strong in first foray to Suncorp Stadium

The Westpac NSW Sky Blues have put on a strong display to secure a 22-12 victory over the Queensland Maroons in Game One of the 2024 Ampol Women’s State of Origin series.

Playing in front of a record attendance of 25,492, NSW didn’t let the cauldron-like atmosphere get the better of them in what was the first Women’s Origin clash at Suncorp Stadium, scoring two quick tries to lead 12-0 after 10 minutes.

“It was so special to have such a big turnout”, Sky Blues prop Millie Boyle said post-match.

“We knew it was going to be big and they (the crowd) came out in force.

“Credit to Queensland – they gave it everything – but we just really wanted that one.

“We knew we had to get the job done up here, and the girls really fought hard to come together and get that win.”

NSW had a couple of early sets in the attacking half before Queensland’s Evania Pelite latched onto an error to race up the other end. Brigginshaw soon followed up with grubber to earn a repeat set, yet the NSW defence held firm.

The Sky Blues then made the most of their next attacking chance. Making their way to midfield, Olivia Kernick put on some late footwork to send prop Caitlan Johnston through a gap, who offloaded for fullback Emma Tonegato to score beside the uprights. 

Within five minutes from a regulation hit-up off her own line, winger Jaime Chapman headed wide and burst through two defenders, before weaving past Tamika Upton for the Sky Blues’ second try.

Picking up on their early success playing down Queensland’s edges, NSW shifted to the right from the kick-off, then switched left for Yasmin Clydsdale to break through. But the second-rower was stopped just shy of the try-line.

Clydsdale was later named Player of the Match with 162 metres and 49 post-contact from 13 runs, a linebreak, three tackle busts and 24 tackles.

The point-scoring came to stop until the 18-minute mark when NSW drew a penalty near the posts, with Rachael Pearson adding the two points to take a 14-0 lead.

Just 10 minutes later the visitors were over the line again through a last-tackle crash play from debutant Grace Kemp, but a handful of Queenslanders did well to hold her up. The 14-0 margin remained until halftime.

Another Pearson penalty goal during the opening exchanges of the second half saw NSW push the lead to 16-0.

Not long after, NSW threatened the line in the middle of the field when co-captain Kezie Apps found an arm free for Jess Sergis in open space with Taliah Fuimaono in support. In the ensuing play Queensland winger Julia Robinson came up with a last-gasp effort to keep Tiana Penitani from scoring.

Needing to be next to score, Queensland started to build pressure with several attacks in the 20-metre zone.

At the 53rd minute the home side eventually found points via Upton, who threw a dummy and muscled her way over line to score. Halfback Zahara Temara converted as Queensland trailed 16-6.

After a long period defending their goal-line – including Pearson’s try-saver against a near certain-to-score Tarryn Aiken – NSW earned a reprieve as Emma Manzelmann dived over only to knock-on in the act of scoring.

Back into attacking territory with six minutes remaining, the Sky Blues sealed the win when hooker Olivia Higgins turned a determined Caitlan Johnston inside to barge over next to the posts. Pearson added the extras as NSW led 22-6.

Queensland came up with a consolation try when Tonegato couldn’t grasp a bouncing Aiken grubber, leaving Emily Bass to score in the corner. Temara’s conversion left the final score at 22-12.

The NSW side will now be looking ahead to McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday 6 June, with the chance to claim a series win on home soil.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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