Queensland claim series with victory in Townsville decider


The Westpac NSW Sky Blues will have to wait another season to claim the Ampol Women’s State of Origin Shield after going down to Queensland 22-6 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville tonight.

The Sky Blues were their own worst enemy after making far too many errors in the first half to allow Queensland to run away to a 14-0 lead at halftime.

They looked a chance of making a game of it when winger Jaime Chapman scored a runaway try with 10 minutes to go in the second half, but the persistent rain that had hung around all match made conditions difficult and proved too much of a hurdle for NSW to overcome.

“I’m so proud of our girls, we’ve had a great series,” Chapman said.

“We left everything out on the field. Good work Queensland, you were better than us and you gave it to us tonight.”

It was a disappointing end to the Origin series for the Sky Blues who had started their campaign so strongly with a convincing 22-12 win in Game One at Suncorp Stadium. They also looked likely winners in Game Two, which was played in atrocious conditions in Newcastle, but couldn’t stave off a late fightback from Queensland to just go down 11-10.

Ultimately, the Game Two result would come back to haunt them as they never looked likely against a determined Queensland tonight. The first half couldn’t end quickly enough for the Sky Blues. The rain had started to tumble during the national anthem and hung around for the rest of the match.

The conditions made handling tough for both teams, but the Sky Blues had the worst of it. Name a statistic and there was a good chance Queensland was on top.
They had 58 per cent possession compared to 42 per cent for the Sky Blues. They completed at 72 per cent whereas the Sky Blues could only manage 50 per cent. They made only seven errors compared to 11 for the Sky Blues.

“We couldn’t play any worse than what we did in that first half,” Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder told Channel 9 at halftime.

“We need to reset, re-focus and there’s still 35 minutes to go.”

The Sky Blues got off to a shaky start when fullback Emma Tonegato lost the ball on a kick return after running into the teeth of some strong defence by Queensland.

The home team were quick to take advantage of the situation with five-eighth Tarryn Aiken putting centre Evania Pelite through a hole to grab the opening try. Lauren Brown landed the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

Queensland applied more pressure through an Ali Brigginshaw grubber kick which saw winger Tiana Penitani driven back in-goal. Halfback Rachael Pearson tried to give her side an edge by kicking the drop-out towards the sideline but unfortunately it went over on the full.

From the ensuing penalty, Brown landed the goal from right in front to extend Queensland’s lead to 8-0.

Queensland finished the first half on a high after Tonegato was unable to clean up an Aiken grubber kick in-goal with winger Julia Robinson pouncing on the scraps to score an opportunistic try. Brown landed the conversion to extend the lead to 14-0 at halftime.

The second half started with Queensland halfback Ali Brigginshaw winning the ball back for her team with a 40/30. A penalty for a strip by the Sky Blues saw the home team extend their lead to 16-0 following a penalty goal from Romy Teitzel.

The Sky Blues had their chances to score but just couldn’t come up with the knockout blow. Grace Kemp took on the goal-line defence but dropped the ball in the tough conditions. Caitlan Johnston-Green did well to slip a pass around the corner in traffic to Baxter, but she lost possession as she was going to ground.

The Sky Blues finally had something to cheer about when Chapman intercepted a pass from Aiken – and saved a certain try-scoring play in the process – and then beat a tackle from the Queensland five-eighth and fullback Tamika Upton to race away and score. Pearson landed the conversion to reduce the deficit to 16-6 and give the Sky Blues some hope with 10 minutes still to go.

That evaporated when Queensland scored through Tazmin Rapana. Brown converted to seal a 22-6 win and ensure Queensland would retain the Shield for another season.