New South Wales have clinched the 2022 Ampol Women's State of Origin with a late try to Isabelle Kelly sealing a 20-14 win for Kylie Hilder's side in front of a record crowd at GIO Stadium.
In an enthralling contest, it was the Maroons who looked to have produced a stunning comeback with a try inside the final minutes — only for Julia Robinson to be denied by Adam Gee in the Bunker after she was offside from Ali Brigginshaw's kick.
Instead, it would be eventual Nellie Doherty medallist Kelly who had the final say, breaking her 10th tackle of the night to cross over late and ensure the Origin shield would be heading back to NSW following back-to-back wins in previous years by Queensland.
Isabelle Kelly wins it for the Sky Blues
In front of a record women's Origin crowd of 11,321, it was Queensland who opened the scoring in the eighth minute when powerhouse lock Destiny Brill crashed over the line off the back of an inside pass from hooker Brittany Breayley-Nati.
The Blues were quick to respond, however, with Origin debutante Emma Tonegato planting the ball down in the air from a perfectly weighted kick from Keeley Davis.
Three minutes later it was five-eighth Kira Dibb capitalising on the Sky Blues' newfound momentum to make it 12-4 with Rachael Pearson’s conversion.
The Maroons looked to regain the lead when Tarryn Aiken used her pace to cross over for the Maroons, with the conversion bringing the scoreboard back to a two-point margin.
The second half saw NSW take the two points again when rake Davis was stripped of possession in a multiple-defender tackle, extending the lead 16-10.
Match: NSW Women v QLD Maroons
Round 1 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Although suffering a blow with veteran prop Steph Hancock failing her HIA, the Maroons hit back with star centre Evania Pelite crossing in the 56th minute, setting up a thrilling finish with 10 minutes to go.
A late no try denied Blues winger Tiana Penitani the match-winning moment, before Kelly put the icing on the cake to seal a six-point victory for the Blues.
- After falling behind to a 4-0 deficit early, NSW hit back with two tries in two minutes through fullback Emma Tonegato and five-eighth Kirra Dibb.
- The Blues took two penalty shots which provided decisive in the end, keeping them in front by two points following Evania Pelite's late try/
- Ali Brigginshaw's kicking game was superb for the Maroons, forcing two errors from the Blues backs which led to points for her side.
- New South Wales started the first half with 11 from 12 completions while the Maroons had 25 missed tackles from the opening half and eventually 52 for the game.
- The half-time lead was the first time the Blues had been in front in Origin history, which was also the highest scoring first half in women's Origin history
- Veteran Maroons forward Steph Hancock failed her head injury assessment and only played limited minutes in perhaps her final-ever Origin game.
- Isabelle Kelly starred from the opening whistle, finishing the night with a try and game-high 186 metres to go with her 10 tackle breaks. She was named the Nellie Doherty medallist for her game-changing effort.
- Origin debutante Tonegato was also impressive, chalking up 163 metres and three linebreaks to go with her try.
- GIO Stadium drew a crowd of 11,321 — the highest for a women's Origin game
Play of the Game
Keeley Davis sparked an opportunity for NSW when she stabbed in a kick behind the line. From there, it was all Emma Tonegato, who raced through to win the race to the ball against Upton — planting the ball down just before the dead-ball line.
How did she get this down?
What They Said
“We’ve been building towards this for two years. The bond that we have, not just as a team but off the field as well, is really important and I think that showed when they came out on to the field. Every time Izzy comes out and plays a game, that’s how she performs, she gives it her all and I’m just so lucky that she gets to play in my side.” - Blues coach Kylie Hilder.
"It was a rollercoaster and disappointing to come away with the loss. To see the girl put in so much effort, it really hurts. The girls fought right to the end so it’s frustrating to finish with the offside try. They kept putting it out there but unfortunately we just didn’t come up with it.” - Maroons coach Tahnee Norris
NRL Press Conference: 2022 Ampol Women's State Of Origin Game 1