New South Wales outlasted Queensland in another interstate battle royale in front of a record women’s State of Origin crowd of 11,321 fans in Canberra on Friday night.
With staunch defense, brutal hit-ups and levels of skill to match, the game was a perfect example of why this will be the last Origin series that features just a single, one-off match.
Here are the five moments that stood out on another wonderful advertisement for the game.
7th minute: Tamika Upton saves the day
The battle of the fullbacks was always going to be worth watching – and it didn’t take long for the pair to make their mark on each other.
New South Wales star Emma Tonegato ran the ball on the last and looked destined to open the scoring for the Sky Blues.
But her opposite number, Tamika Upton, was on hand not only affect the tackle, but roll the Olympic gold medallist onto her back and deny her the chance to ground the ball.
With NSW in control at that stage, it was a tackle that Queensland needed to make and underlined the ferocity of a contest in which nothing would be easy.
14th minute: Faster. Higher. Stronger. Emma Tonegato’s stunning put-down
If you were going to breach either of these defenses, it was clear it would take something pretty special.
After going behind early, the Blues went straight on the attack, with Shaylee Bent getting within a handful of meters on the last tackle.
Hooker Keeley Davis did not like the options left, so cut back to the right side, before angling a grubber into the in-goal that looked for all the money to be going too long.
The Dally M Medal winner flew towards the line and dived at full stretch, touching down just ahead of Upton to score NSW’s first try of the night.
Gus Gould called it an “amazing put down” and “brilliant” on commentary – and he was right.
16th minute: Kirra Dibb flies through
Like London buses, you wait a quarter of an hour for one try to come along, and then another follows almost instantly.
The Sky Blues played the ball on their attacking 40 before shifting the ball to the left side with two passes that had the Maroons already scambling.
Then all it took was half a shimmy and Kirra Dibb was through a gap.
The Blues five-eighth left Chelsea Lenarduzzi and Tazmin Gray clutching at air as she pinned back her ears and raced for the line, putting an outrageous stutter-step on Upton before crashing over the line as a trio of Maroons converged.
59th minute: It’s not over until it’s over
New South Wales were cruising. They were flying. They were doing it easy.
Sure, they were only up by six, but it felt like a lot more than that, and one more try would surely open the floodgates.
Despite dominating possession and field position through the second half, all it took for the Blues to let Queensland back into it was a wobbly kick from Ali Brigginshaw, a drop from Tiana Penitani and a try to Maroons debutant Evania Pelite in the corner.
Lauren Brown’s sideline conversation hit the post, but the message was sent – this game was far from over.
65th minute: The greatest try that never was
You could have put it up with any try Queensland ever scored.
Julia Robinson flying through to claim a Brigginshaw kick, at full pace, and popping a pass to Shenae Ciesiolka to score.
New South Wales heads went down. The Maroons had done it again. They’d stolen one off the Blues. Meet your best mate at Caxton Street in five minutes to celebrate.
But further examination found Robinson was slightly offside, and instead the Blues took the ball up the other end and Isabelle Kelly scored to wrap it all up.
Roller coasters do not change direction so quickly.
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