2 days ago
2018 Women's State of Origin Preview
April 30 1910, Rugby League made its debut at the already historic North Sydney Oval when North Sydney took a 13-9 victory over Glebe.
Fast forward 108 years and North Sydney Oval again makes history as it hosts the first ever stand-alone Women's State of Origin game on Friday night.
The Nellie Doherty Cup first began in 1999 and it was a Maroons domination with the first sixteen clashes all going Queensland's way between 1999 and 2014 before a draw in 2015 and back to back wins for NSW in 2016 & 2017.
New South Wales come into the game confident of a win, fielding seven members of the World Cup winning Jillaroos side although they will be without high profile star Ruan Sims who suffered a hand injury which was quickly followed by a broken nose just days later. Despite losing Sims, the Blues come into the clash with a strong line-up including Sam Bremner who returns to representative football after suffering a fractured fibula during last year's World Cup at Cronulla.
The New South Wales side will come into the game knowing that their defence is strong and will look to keep their good defensive record going in recent years which has seen Queensland score just one try per match in the past three seasons. The Blues win in 2017 was their first ever victory on home soil and they would love to make it back to back in arguably the biggest Women's Origin game yet.
Queensland were the dominant force of Women's Origin since the inaugural clash in 1999 however in recent years New South Wales have taken the trophy and the Queenslanders will be wanting to take it back across the border. Just like New South Wales, the Queenslanders also have seven members of the World Cup winning Jillaroos side including Steph Hancock who lines up for her 14th interstate clash.
Queensland in recent years have had a shortage of points having scored just one try in each of the games although prior to last year's clash they had restricted New South Wales to under ten points as well. The Queenslanders will no doubt be looking to use the early dominance as a strong part of their resurgence to take the Origin crown again.
Last meeting: 2017 Women's Interstate Challenge - NSW 22 def QLD 6, WIN Stadium
Who to watch: Sam Bremner - One of the Jillaroos stars, Bremner has only just returned from a Fractured Fibula a matter of weeks ago and is on the comeback trail. The NSW fullback made her first appearances for the Blues in 2011 and made her debut for the Jillaroos in 2013. A star at the back, Bremner has tremendous speed and footwork that can cause plenty of issues for the QLD.
Chelsea Baker - A late bloomer in Rugby League terms, NSW born Baker made her debut for Queensland in 2015 and the Jillaroos in 2016 aged 30, Baker has speed and strength that belies her age and size which was on show at the 2017 Auckland 9s when she starred as apart of the Jillaroos squad that defeated New Zealand.
My tip: Both sides will be well up for the historic match in it's new format, but with a bumper crowd expected and mostly behind New South Wales it's hard to see the Blues playing a bad game. The women's origin in the past have been physical contests and this will be no doubt another tough game with the growing professionalism in the game. New South Wales should edge out Queensland but it will be a close game. NSW by 4.
New South Wales Women:
1. Sam Bremner 2. Taleena Simon 3. Corban Mcgregor 4. Isabelle Kelly 5. Nakia Davis-welsh 6. Lavina O'mealey 7. Maddison Studdon 8. Elianna Walton 9. Rebecca Riley 10. Simaima Taufa 11. Talesha Quinn 12. Kezie Apps 13. Vanessa Foliaki 14. Nita Maynard 15. Rebecca Young 16. Holli Wheeler 17. Hannah Southwell
1. Chelsea Baker 2. Karina Brown 3. Amelia Kuk 4. Meg Ward 5. Rhiannon Revell-blair 6. Zahara Temara 7. Ali Brigginshaw 8. Rona Peters 9. Brittany Breayley 10. Heather Ballinger 11. Tazmin Gray 12. Maitua Feterika 13. Annette Brander 14. Mariah Storch 15. Stephanie Hancock 16. Kody House 17. Tallisha Harden
Referees: Jon Stone, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Belinda Sleeman; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Henry Perenara;