A penalty try for the Sky Blues in the final minute handed them an 18-14 victory over the Maroons on Thursday night, but it wasn't enough to deny Queensland victory in the two-game series.
Having won the opening game in Sydney 18-10, Tahnee Norris' side ran out in front of 18,275 fans at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville knowing anything bar a loss by eight points or more would see them crowned champions, and after leading for the majority of the match they had to endure a late scare.
Down 14-12 with 25 seconds left, NSW were awarded a penalty try after Shenae Ciesiolka led with her boot in preventing Yasmin Clydsdale from scoring.
A penalty try at the death
Jesse Southwell converted to give her side a four-point lead, before intervention from the Bunker after the full-time siren found a hip drop tackle which resulted in Romy Teitzel going on report, and NSW launching one final Hail Mary, which ultimately was cleaned up with ease by Tamika Upton to end the game.
Confirmation of the series win capped of a momentous 24 hours for Queensland rugby league, following on from the men's side securing a series victory on Wednesday night, marking the first time in three years that both titles have gone north of the border.
After falling behind just three minutes into the contest, the Maroons scored three unanswered tries to lead at the break.
Back-rower Tazmin Gray was at her destructive best, with her powerful carries leading to Upton and Emily Bass scoring in the 17th and 25th minutes, while in defence she produced some bruising hits and came up with a likely try-saver on Southwell in the shadows of half-time.
Don't run at Gray
Earlier it was New South Wales who started the better of the two sides, and it took just three minutes for the Sky Blues to get on the board.
After a hamstring injury robbed her of appearing in Game One, Tiana Penitani scored with her first touch of the ball after tracking down a drilled grubber kick from Keeley Davis.
Southwell then kicked a penalty goal to extend the lead to 6-0, and while the Sky Blues continued to produce plenty of scoring opportunities, they had no answer for Gray at the other end when she hit go.
After Upton and Bass went over to give the hosts the lead, Tarryn Aiken sold the defence down the river with a dummy and scooted in for a third.
Trailing 14-6 at the break, New South Wales knew they'd need at least 16 points in the second period, and they made an ideal start when Penitani scored her second on the opening set.
Women's State of Origin post-match presentation
While Southwell's sideline conversion pinged off the post, a penalty a short time later presented the teenage No.7 with a gift two points to close the gap to 14-12 with 23 minutes to play.
Cue the late drama and plenty of stressful moments for Queensland, but in the end the Maroons did enough to claim interstate bragging rights for 2023.
Match: Maroons v Sky Blues
Game 2 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
- This year marked the first time the series was played over two games, with a points aggregate system introduced in the event of games being split.
- It is the first time Queensland have won a women's series since 2021 and the first time since 2020 that both the men's and women's teams have claimed interstate honours in the same year.
- Kezie Apps became the Sky Blues' most-capped player, lining up for NSW for the 11th time.
- Maroons prop Shannon Mato put her hand up for 17 carries, resulting in 159 metres, while her skipper Ali Brigginshaw made 118 metres off 16 carries.
- Tiana Penitani marked her return to the Origin arena after missing Game One through injury with a two-try showing which included three line breaks and 124 run metres.
Perfect start for Penitani
- Queensland missed 54 tackles, compared to New South Wales' 26, while they had 11 errors to their opposition's nine.
Play of the Game
While there was plenty of nice attacking rugby league played and quality tries scored, so often it's what you do off the ball that decides Origin games. This effort from Tamika Upton came at a time when the Sky Blues were dominating scoring opportunities, and she put her body on the line to stop a flying Tiana Penitani.
Upton saves the day
What They Said
"I think we [Kezie Apps and I] are both really confused about how to feel at the moment. We just won a game of Origin in Queensland, which is a massive feat, and it was such a battle and such a great game, but you feel still so defeated because we have lost a two-game series by four points." – New South Wales coach Kylie Hilder.
Sky Blues: Game 2
"We are going to enjoy the [series] win. The girls just scrapped and scrapped and scrapped in both games and I thought they just showed what Queenslanders are all about. I am super proud of them." – Queensland coach Tahnee Norris.
Maroons: Game 2