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Women's Origin set for decider as Sky Blues suffer one-point loss

The Ampol Women’s State of Origin series will head to a decider in Townsville after the Westpac NSW Sky Blues lost an 11-10 thriller against Queensland Maroons at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle tonight.

The Sky Blues only needed to win to secure the Origin Shield after taking out Game One at Suncorp Stadium but were unable to hold off the Maroons at the end of the game, who threw everything at them to keep the series alive.

Women’s State of Origin moved to a historic three-game series in 2024 after last year’s two-game series finished at 1-1 to leave both teams feeling flat.

The Sky Blues can still hold their heads high after turning in a spirited performance. They took a 6-0 lead into the break and looked to have secured the win after scoring late in the second half to take a 10-4 lead, but Queensland refused to surrender.

There were plenty of star performers for NSW including Jess Sergis, who got bent backwards in a tackle in the first half and battled through a leg injury to finish the game, and winger Jaime Chapman, who also pushed through cramp and injury. Co-captain and back-rower Kezie Apps ran for 116 metres, had a linebreak and busted four tackles, while co-captain and centre Isabelle Kelly topped the run metres (173) and also had four tackle busts. 

“I don’t know what to say, I’m pretty disappointed at the moment,” Sergis said after the game.

“There was only six points in it at halftime, it was a real grind.”

The match was played in difficult conditions, with the rain pelting down just before kick-off and hanging around for the remainder of the game. That meant handling would be tough and any points would be a premium for both teams.

The Sky Blues looked to be on top in the first half but couldn’t turn their chances into points.

Chapman, who scored a memorable try in Game One, looked to make a half break down the sideline before the defence caught up and collared her. Prop Millie Elliott charged at the line but had the ball knocked out as she was looking to play it. Halfback Rachael Pearson put a kick over to Chapman in the corner, but it had a little too much on it and bounced away from the winger. Hooker Olivia Higgins came close to sneaking over from dummy-half but was denied by some desperate goal line defence.

The pressure eventually led to points on the back of a run from Sergis, who along with the rest of the back five charged tirelessly into the Maroons’ defence to keep their team on the front foot. A strong run from Sergis after a tap, and offload to co-captain Kezie Apps to keep the play alive had Queensland scrambling backwards. A shift to the left saw five-eighth Corban Baxter come close before replacement hooker Keeley Davis caught the goal-line defence napping when she dummied for Grace Kemp before burrowing over from close range. Pearson converted for a 6-0 lead.

The defence, which had helped the Sky Blues capture a win in Game One, was just as willing for Game Two. Hometown hero Caitlan Johnston-Green buried Queensland back-rower Romy Teitzel with a brutal front-on tackle. There was even better to come when Queensland surged at the line through winger Evania Pelite only to be stopped by some determined goal-line defence from Apps, Pearson, Sergis and fullback Emma Tonegato.

The NSW defence was just as desperate in the second half as Queensland threw everything they could at them to get back into the match and keep the series alive. Time and time again NSW turned up for each other to deny their opponents but Queensland eventually found a way through when No.7 Ali Brigginshaw threw a well-timed cut-out pass for centre Shenae Ciesiolka to dive over out wide and reduce the deficit to 6-4. Lauren Brown had a chance to level the scores from a difficult position near the touchline, but fortunately for the Sky Blues the attempt went across the face of goal.

NSW wrestled back the advantage when Sergis showed great awareness to strip Queensland winger Julia Robinson of the ball. The Sky Blues shifted the ball to the left before Corban Baxter threw a looping pass over the top for winger Tiana Penitani to score in the corner.

Any celebrations were cut short when Queensland got the ball back from the kick-off and five-eighth Tarryn Aiken slid through a hole in the defence to score next to the posts. Brown landed the conversion to level the scores at 10-all and set up a grandstand finish with under 10 minutes to go.

Brown landed a field goal with only minutes remaining to seal an 11-10 win and send the series to a decider in Townsville on Thursday 27 June.

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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