NSW star in distress, taken to hospital after 'nasty' injury as QLD ...
There are serious concerns for NSW skipper Isabelle Kelly after the superstar centre was taken to hospital with a throat injury as Queensland held on to win 18-10 in the women’s State of Origin opener in Sydney.
The Maroons are in the box seat to reclaim the shield but it’s far from over thanks to the new rules brought in this year that sees the series winner decided by aggregate after two games.
That’s little comfort for the Sky Blues who lost Kelly just before half-time to a tackle that is likely to earn the ire of the match review committee.
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The NSW captain was trying to make a tackle on Jillaroos teammate Julia Robinson but copped an elbow directly to the throat from her Queensland rival who showed immediate concern.
Kelly was in immediate discomfort and struggled to breathe as she was taken from the field by two trainers.
“A bit of drama with Isabelle Kelly going off with what looked a pretty nasty injury,” Fox League’s Lara Pitt said at halftime.
The incident wasn’t penalised but Robinson was placed on report after Tazmin Gray crashed over to give the visitors a 10-6 lead at the break.
The Maroons picked up where they left off early in the second half as Shenae Ciesiolka intercepted a Jesse Southwall pass to race away, just ran down by speedster Jaime Chapman.
Queensland though quickly capitalised, spreading the ball left as Emily Bass scored to extend the lead before Robinson had her second try soon after to push the buffer out to 12.
NSW drew within eight points as Chapman scored on debut, with Southwell holding the ball up well in the lead-up and the young half impressed soon after to force a dropout with a deft kick.
An error from Kezie Apps though saw the Sky Blues squander that opportunity and that proved a recurring theme for NSW, who went down 18-10 in the end.
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QUEENS OF THE UPSET
It was far from clinical but the Maroons are 70 minutes away from winning back the shield after the rank outsiders proved too good in front of 12,972 fans at CommBank Stadium.
Robinson was the chief destroyer with a try in each half for the Maroons against a NSW side that looked rushed in attack and struggled to execute their set plays.
Thursday’s result means Queensland just have to avoid a nine-point loss in Townsville in three weeks’ time, with their superior kicking game and poise under pressure making them the raging hot favourites.
Their job could be made easier with Sky Blues star Sarah Togatuki on report for a lifting tackle.
CHAPMAN’S FAST CAR
Josh Addo-Carr faces stiff competition if he wants to keep his title of fastest man on the planet, but there is no such doubt in the women’s game with Jaime Chapman showing off her incredible speed to save a certain try.
Queensland looked certain to score when Shenae Ciesiolka intercepted a Jesse Southwell pass and set off for the try line, but Chapman had other ideas.
Despite giving her rival a 10-metre head start, the NSW winger hit the accelerator and reeled her in with a tackle that will be replayed for years.
It was all for nothing, however, as Queensland shifted it to the other side of the field where Emily Bass crashed over to make it 14-6 five minutes into the second half.
Chapman was rewarded later on when she crossed in the left corner to cap a terrific Origin debut.
FIRST MINUTE MADNESS
We’ve seen some bad challenges over the years, but the Maroons may have raised the bar after they blew theirs inside the opening 60 seconds on Thursday night.
It’s a good thing the scores weren’t close at the death because they wasted a potential opportunity to overturn a bad call with a brain snap just a few tackles into the contest.
Skipper Ali Brigginshaw will have to think twice about trusting Shannon Mato after the prop ordered a challenge when she lost the ball near halfway.