Expect a thriller for the women's Origin decider. (Image: NSWRL)

The series remains undecided ahead of the final game of the 2023 Ampol Women’s State of Origin Series.

With Queensland winning the first game at CommBank Stadium 18-10 earlier in the month, the Maroons are leading the way and are the closest to winning the series.

If the Maroons win this second and final game of the series, they can win the series without worrying about any result that includes a loss by eight points or more under the points aggregate system implemented before the series kicked off. 

Game One showed the big gap between the end of the NRLW season and State of Origin, with a lot of the players not having played between last October and June of this year.

While the first game showcased numerous errors and an open style of play, the upcoming match is expected to be different. 

The focus will likely shift towards the forward packs, hopefully getting a lot of impact from their physicality and yardage in the match. 

The Maroons have been successful in their previous two games played in Queensland, but overall, the Sky Blues hold a 5-3 advantage in head-to-head encounters since 2016.

Queensland Maroons

In the absence of Julia Robinson, the Maroons’ standout player from Game One who is currently serving a suspension, China Polata will make her debut on the wing. 

The rest of the lineup remains unchanged, except for a positional switch in the back row, with Romy Teitzel starting and Shania Power coming off the bench. 

However, there may be last-minute changes before the kick-off in Townsville. 

Expect both teams, particularly the Maroons, to clean up their errors and play the game to complete sets and create opportunistic field positioning.

With the spine looking like it will stay unchanged, the Maroons’ ball movement involving Ali Brigginshaw could be tweaked, instead getting Brigginshaw and the halves to get the forward pack close to the line for an easy opening on the edge for scoring points in the game.

Power has also been moved to the bench, possibly to create a spark and unique offensive flow near the end of the first half.

There were moments when Queensland struggled to move the ball to their edge players and play fast-paced and with open space.

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Sky Blues

On the Sky Blues’ side, they welcome back Simaima Taufa and Tiana Penitani, two experienced players who missed Game One due to injury. 

Taufa returns at lock, while Penitani takes her place on the wing which means that Taliah Fuimaono moves back to the halves, replacing Rachael Pearson, and Brooke Anderson becomes the 19th player due to Taufa’s inclusion. 

Isabelle Kelly has been named as a starter in the centres after being cleared of a larynx fracture and throat damage suffered in Game One, which required hospitalization.

In Game One, the Sky Blues notably had difficulty carrying the ball up the field and sustaining field position for scoring opportunities.

Most Notable Matchup

While the backlines were pivotal in the first game’s defining moments, the forward packs are expected to have a more significant impact in the Townsville match. 

The key figures in this battle will be Keilee Joseph and Millie Boyle, both known for their powerful style of play and as a result, their performance will greatly influence how their respective spines dictate the flow of the game. 

Joseph made an impressive debut for Queensland in the opening game, playing 57 minutes and delivering the highest number of tackles (25) for her team. 

Boyle, on the other hand, amassed 128 metres gained, with nearly half of them coming after contact.

The Queensland Maroons will face the Sky Blues in Game Two on Thursday 22nd of June, played at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

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