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'I didn't milk it': Lenarduzzi's last-minute penalty seals Maroons win

Maroons forward Chelsea Lenarduzzi is adamant she didn't milk a penalty in the dying stages of the side's 8-6 victory over NSW in the 2021 Women's Origin clash.

A penalty goal with a minute remaining sealed back-to-back State of Origin titles for Queensland at Sunshine Coast Stadium after scores were locked at 6-6 in slippery conditions.

The deadlock was broken when Sky Blues prop Filomina Hanisi was penalised for a leg pull on Lenarduzzi.

The call was a tough way to decide a tense and tight clash played with Maroons centre Lauren Brown making no mistake from in front to hand the Maroons the win.

NSW coach Kylie Hilder didn't want to comment but labelled the call "a shit way to lose a game" post-match, while Sky Blues captain Kezie Apps was also careful with her words. 

"I thought she (Lenarduzzi) was milking it. It's a really bad way to end a game. I'll leave it at that," Apps said.

Nevertheless, Lenarduzzi defended the play in a finish to the match that will ensure no love is lost for when the two states meet again in 2022.

"She was holding onto my leg as I was trying to play the ball so I don't know how I was milking it," Lenarduzzi told NRL.com.

"You'll have to ask Belinda [referee Belinda Sharpe], she obviously didn't think I was milking it, did she?".

Lenarduzzi produced a mixed performance for the Maroons but ended up coming up with two match-winning plays for the side.

The Maroons prop came up with a one-on-one strip on Hanisi in the final 10 minutes before earning the penalty late.

Brigginshaw takes to the stage to raise the shield

"I was terrible tonight," Lenarduzzi said.

"I've tried to over the years to have that mentality that if I don't play well that you can still make a difference.

"There are players that I watch in lots of different sports that play terrible and then when crunch time comes they show up.

"I tried to adopt that mentality that you might have the worst 60 minutes of your life but if you play 10 minutes at the end well you might make a difference."

Maroons forward Tazmin Gray was placed on report for a high tackle early but finished the game as the Nellie Doherty Medal winner.

The Sky Blues signalled their intentions from the kick-off with an immediate shift with the ball to the right edge but struggled to complete their sets in the greasy conditions.

The visitors took advantage of a repeat set to cross first through Isabelle Kelly but couldn't produce any further points until a penalty goal in the second half.

"They were tough and threw a lot at us," Maroons coach Tahnee Norris said.

"Defensively they were outstanding. We gave away a couple of easy balls and needed to turn that error rate around.

"We played a bit of one-out footy early which was a bit frustrating but once we started to throw it around a bit more we started to see the shape, it paid off for us at the end."

The momentum began to swing in the Maroons' favour when rookie Destiny Brill was denied a four-pointer after being held up.

Brill finished the night with 29 tackles, four tackle breaks and 64 running metres to announce herself as an Origin star for many years to come while Gray made 125 metres from 15 hit-ups.

NSW almost pulled off two miraculous efforts from Tiana Penitani and Jess Sergis but were further hampered when Hannah Southwell (ankle) left the field, only to return towards the end of the game.

The Sky Blues' ill-discipline began to creep in before the break with Simaima Taufa (crusher) and Kezie Apps (high tackle) cited for tackles.

Queensland took immediate advantage of Apps' foul play with Brill fooling the NSW defenders close to the line in the 24th minute.

Tazmin Gray named Nellie Doherty Medallist

The Maroons went into the break leading 6-4 but the Sky Blues levelled the scores when Lenarduzzi collected Southwell high right in front of the posts and Studdon knocked the penalty goal over.

Maroons fullback Tamika Upton looked to have put the home side in front with seven minutes remaining but the Bunker ruled a no try due to obstruction by Julia Robinson in the lead-up.

Chief playmaker Ali Brigginshaw was at her orchestrating best in the middle of the field late in the game.

A dropped ball by Kelly with four minutes to go opened the door for the Maroons and it was Lauren Brown who stepped up to ice the game with the penalty goal.

Also not eager to comment on the final play that decided the game, Norris believed the Maroons had done enough to win.

"I thought we were unlucky with the [Upton] call before," Norris said.

"We were setting up for a field goal but with the penalty we'll take that."

After losing the first two Origin games at North Sydney Oval in 2018 and ’19 the Maroons have hit back hard on home territory, winning last November’s clash and repeating the dose in 2021.

Press Conference: Queensland v New South Wales - Women's State of Origin, 2021

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