The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin team produced a whirlwind finish against Queensland in the Harvey Norman Women’s Origin match on the Sunshine Coast last night but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to save them from a 24-18 loss.
It was gutsy finish from NSW who trailed 24-6 late in the second half before laying on three late tries in the space of 10 minutes to reduce the margin to 24-18 with time for one final play. Unfortunately, NSW were unable to capitalise from the kick-off with the ball finding touch.
It is the first time NSW has lost an interstate match against Queensland since 2014 and the first time they have surrendered the Shield since the Origin concept started in 2018.
Captain Kezie Apps was strong after running for 113 metres and grabbing a try in the first half while prop Simaima Taufa ran for 116 metres. Centre Isabelle Kelly ran strongly for 114 metres while fullback Botille Vette-Welsh managed 140 metres and scored an impressive try at the end.
“We definitely love Origin and that rivalry between us but you guys stuck it to us so you deserve the win,” Apps said.
“To my girls we had a really great time together building our combinations and building our culture and you girls have shown so much pride in the jersey tonight with an unfortunate result.”
Queensland won the toss and elected to run with the advantage of a gale-force wind at their backs for the first half. NSW pulled a selection surprise before kick-off with evergreen hooker Kylie Hilder, 44, being selected to play following an injury to Keeley Davis.
NSW got some early relief through a penalty and nearly made Queensland pay when Kelly did a great job to attract two defenders before slipping a pass for Shanice Parker to score. However, the last pass was forward and the try was disallowed.
The Maroons kept peppering away at the NSW line but the defence held firm until fullback Tamika Upton came up with a brilliant piece of play to open the scoring.
NSW five-eighth Corban McGregor put through a high kick on the fifth tackle and Upton defused it on the 20-metre line before setting sail upfield. Vette-Welsh ran her towards the touch line before Upton stepped back infield to score close to the posts. Lauren Brown landed the conversion to put the Maroons in front 6-0.
NSW suffered another blow when Shaylee Bent left the field injured and was replaced by Yasmin Meakes but it wasn’t long before they had something to celebrate. A clever grubber kick from debutant halfback Melanie Howard sat up nicely for Apps to dive over the line and score. Howard converted to level the scores at 6-all.
The two teams went to the break still locked up before Queensland took advantage of a defensive lapse early in the second half to take the lead. Five-eighth Tarryn Aiken found herself in space before turning a ball back inside for Upton to grab her second try of the match. Brown landed the conversion from right in front to put Queensland up 12-6.
The road back for NSW got even tougher when tries followed to Aiken and Stephanie Hancock to extend the lead to 24-6 with time fast running out.
NSW centre Tiana Penitani showed great speed and strength to slice through the Maroons defence before wheeling around to score but Hannah Southwell was unable to add the extras to leave the score at 24-10.
Filomina Hanisi barged her way over the line to reduce the margin to 24-10 before Vette-Welsh showed plenty of swerve and acceleration to score an impressive long-range try in the corner and set up a grandstand finish at 24-18
Unfortunately, they couldn’t capitalise on the last play and it was a case of too little too late.