Queensland level women’s series in Origin II thriller

Jasper Bruce |

Lauren Brown has kicked a match-winning field goal for Queensland in the Origin II win over NSW.
Lauren Brown has kicked a match-winning field goal for Queensland in the Origin II win over NSW.

A clutch field goal from Lauren Brown has sealed Queensland’s unlikely 11-10 defeat of NSW in the second State of Origin match and sent the inaugural women’s three-match series to a decider in Townsville.

Convincing winners in game one last month, the Sky Blues had dominated the majority of Thursday night’s clash in Newcastle, played before a record crowd of 25,782 fans in pouring rain.

But after five-eighth Tarryn Aiken scythed through with nine minutes to play, bamboozling the Blues’ game-one player of the match Yasmin Clydsdale, Queensland were on their way to levelling the scores against the odds.

At 10-10, star NSW prop Caitlan Johnston turned possession over in the final minutes as she carted the ball into Queensland’s half, allowing the Maroons to position themselves for a game-winning shot.

Veteran utility Brown stepped up and nailed her strike from 25 metres out, keeping the series alive with a stunning shot for field goal.

“That was insane,” Queensland coach Tahnee Norris said of the thrilling win.

“That’s true Origin football. It’s so good for our game to play a game of footy like that for the crowd.

“These girls know what it takes to be a Queenslander and win games like that. I’m so proud of them.”

Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder rued her side’s inability to capitalise on chances.

“The frustrating thing for me as a coach is that we were so dominant probably for the majority of the game and then we just allowed Queensland to get back on top,” she said.

“We didn’t execute and take opportunities when we should’ve. That’s what we’ll go back and take a look at for game three.”

Tahnee Norris.
Maroons coach Tahnee Norris gets in the the celebrations after full time. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Queensland halves Aiken and Ali Brigginshaw each created a try seemingly from nothing as the Maroons clawed back after a 6-0 first half from NSW that felt more dominant than the scoreline suggested.

Halfback Rachael Pearson had outgunned superstar Brigginshaw in the kicking battle on the Queenslander’s return to the halves, while the Sky Blues middle, led by Johnston, was far more damaging than the visitors’.

But when Brigginshaw drew Isabelle Kelly in-field with her cut-out pass, Shenae Ciesiolka dived over for a try that put the Maroons back in the game at 6-4 in the 54th minute.

Fighting through the pain of two corked legs, Jess Sergis stole the ball from Julia Robinson as Queensland were coming out of trouble in a play that turned the momentum back to NSW.

Only two tackles later, the Sky Blues had shifted left, a cut-out ball from Corban Baxter sending Tiana Penitani over for a try that appeared to put NSW back on the path to victory.

Tiana Penitani.
Tiana Penitani touches down for the Sky Blues’ second try of the night in Newcastle. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

But the Maroons refused to die, marching upfield to tie the scores and then win the game through Brown against the odds.

“You’ve got to love the fact she can kick a footy. She was amazing,” Norris said.

Maroons prop Shannon Mato went on report for pulling Yasmin Clydsdale’s ponytail as she attempted to tackle the NSW second-rower in the first half.

Keilee Joseph could join her teammate in attracting scrutiny from the match review committee; the Queensland forward wrapped her arm around Sergis’ neck in a high tackle just before halftime and could consider herself lucky to have remained afield.

Sergis fell awkwardly, appearing to hurt her left leg, and left for a head injury assessment. Already in the wars, Sergis went down with a sore right leg after contesting a Pearson kick but played on and is in no doubt for the decider.

“She’s just got some corks, and good luck me trying to stop her from playing game three,” she said.