Queensland triumph in historic Women’s State of Origin decider

QUEENSLAND stand-off Tarryn Aiken led her state to a thumping 22-6 victory over New South Wales in the deciding match of the first ever three-game Women’s Origin series. 

Despite the rain-soaked conditions in the far north Queensland tropics, the diminutive playmaker set up the Maroons’ two first-half tries as the hosts dominated from start to finish. 

Three weeks after Lauren Brown’s late field-goal sent this three-game campaign to a decider, the Queenslanders returned home to claim the shield in front of a bumper crowd of 22,819 at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium. 

Shannon Mato took out the Nellie Doherty Medal for Player of the Series, having topped her side’s running-metre count in all three matches — including a game-high 151 in the wet in game three.

Twelve months after the Maroons won a two-game interstate series on points aggregate, Tahnee Norris’ side overturned a 1-0 deficit to take out the expanded three-game series — the first time since the inception of women’s Origin in 2018 that the shield has been contested over three matches. 

Injury forced Maroons coach Norris to tinker with her line-up, replacing Destiny Brill (calf) and Sienna Lofipo (knee) with Origin-experienced pair Sophie Holyman and Chelsea Lenarduzzi on the bench. 

By contrast, Sky Blues boss Kylie Hilder had the luxury of naming an unchanged 17 yet again, keeping faith in the same group of players who ran out in both game one and two. 

That stability on the teamsheet did little to shore up their goal-line defence in the opening stages, when Aiken sent Evania Pelite charging past Kezie Apps off the back of a scrum to claim the opening try inside two minutes. 

A miscued Rachael Pearson goal-line dropout then gifted Brown two points with the kicking tee. 

Then deep into the first half, the hosts rammed home their advantage through Aiken again. 

This time the star stand-off stabbed a grubber down the short side, and NSW fullback Emma Tonegato spilled the greasy ball into the path of try-scorer Julia Robinson. 

An Ali Brigginshaw 40/20 put Queensland on the front foot straight after the restart, and an ill-disciplined Keeley Davis strip gave deputy kicker Romy Teitzel a handy penalty goal. 

Now trailing 16-0, if the Sky Blues wanted to produce a miracle comeback, they needed to cash in on every opportunity. 

But the desperate Emmanita Paki denied a golden Jaime Chapman chance in the right corner, before a Tamika Upton lunge jarred the ball from Corban Baxter’s grasp over the line. 

The women in blue eventually got on the scoreboard through Chapman, who manufactured a brilliant length-of-the-field try. 

The pacy winger saved a certain Queensland four-pointer by leaping to snaffle an Aiken pass, then shrugged off the five-eighth and burned past Upton to gallop 90 metres to score. 

Pearson’s conversion closed the gap to ten points with as many minutes remaining, giving NSW fans some faint belief. 

But Tazmin Rapana’s late barge-over — overpowering Pearson and Tonegato from close range — snuffed out any hope of a NSW comeback. 

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