Defence was the name of the game in this year’s Women’s Interstate Challenge – with Queensland retaining the Nellie Doherty Cup with the final result ending up a 4-4 draw.
Queensland were on the back foot almost from the get-go with debutant halfback Courtney Lockwood injuring her leg in the early stages of the half.
She battled on as long as she could, but in the end had to come off the field – forcing a major reshuffle for Queensland.
Intermittent rain at Townsville’s 1300SMILES Stadium made for a heavy track and at times the handling left a little to be desired – but many of the errors from both sides came from the pressure of committed defence.
With seven rookies in the run-on side, the Queenslanders were underdogs going into this match, despite aiming for their 17th consecutive win over the Blues.
The big crowd that began to gather for the game were treated to a tough battle – with the Queenslanders continually putting their body on the line to stop the Blues – none more so than lock Tarah Westera who tackled herself to a standstill.
Prop Heather Ballinger had a long injury lay-off coming into this match but didn’t skip a beat, charging ahead for her side when the whole team were tired.
One of the new faces to have a game to remember was winger Chelsea Baker who scored Queensland’s only try just under 10 minutes to the halftime break.
A dart from fullback Karina Brown started the movement before the woman nicknamed ‘Boney’ found space on the right-hand side to touch down in the corner and the home side went into the sheds with a 4-0 lead.
In the second half it seemed that Queensland didn’t even touch the ball – forced to defend their line continuously from a talented NSW side that also contained their fair share of Jillaroos.
However, NSW also had to overcome the loss of superstar fullback Sam Hammond in the first half – while Kezie Apps - who was one of the best for the opposition, producing offloads almost at will - was also off the field for some time with injury.
In a see-sawing half where neither side was able to fully capitalise on errors made by the opposition or use their field position – NSW finally levelled the scores with a try from almost the exact same spot as Queensland in the first half.
Player of the match in this year’s Anzac Test after scoring three tries on debut, Mahalia Murphy managed a great offload to start the play play that lead to the Blues shifting the ball to the right for Isabelle Kelly to score out wide.
However – those were the only points of the half and with no extra time – Queensland retained the silverware.
Queensland 4 (Chelsea Baker) drew New South Wales 4 (Isabelle Kelly) at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Player of the Match: Simaima Taufa (New South Wales)
Queensland Players Player: Tarah Westera and Latoya Billy