By Martin Lenehan
The NSW Under 19 women struck the first blow on a weekend of Origin rivalry with a 22-6 win over Queensland Under 19s at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night.
After winning last year’s clash on the Sunshine Coast the Blues made it back-to-back victories thanks to standout performances from centre Andie Robinson and fullback Jada Taylor.
Robinson snared a hat-trick and Taylor a double as the Blues turned a narrow half-time lead into a runaway victory.
After a nervous start from both sides it was NSW who struck first when Robinson finished off some great lead-up work by five-eighth Losana Lutu and Taylor.
As one of the Blues’ two “marquee” under 20s players Robinson lived up to her billing with a swerving 30-metre run to post the game’s first four-pointer before the Maroons answered back through one of their marquees.
Tweed Seagulls playmaker Jada Ferguson got into dummy half on the last tackle and saw an opportunity down the short side, putting winger Titans flyer Jetaya Faifua away down the left wing before taking the return pass to score.
Six minutes later the Blues had a second try when Taylor powered over from dummy half to make it 8-6.
A member of the Roosters’ Indigenous Academy side which claimed the Tarsha Gale Cup title in April, Taylor enjoyed a fine first half in attack and defence.
With half-time approaching the Maroons looked to have regained the lead when Otesa Pule left four defenders in her wake to crash over but replays showed she had lost control of the ball and the bunker ruled ‘no try’.
A loose pass by Maroons centre Emmanita Paki in the 38th minute opened the door for the Blues and they capitalised through Robinson, who crossed from close range after Lotu had bamboozled the defence with some sweet stepping.
Reuben Cherrington, the younger sister of Eels star Kennedy Cherrington, then piloted a tough conversion to make it 14-6 to the Blues.
Robinson completed her hat-trick in the 47th minute when Monalisa Soliola, Leilani Wilson and Jules Kirkpatrick combined well with slick hands to give her a clear run to the line.
Taylor then iced the win with a stunning 105-metre try after cleaning up a kick in her own in goal and swerving past several defenders before going the distance, despite a gallant chase from her Roosters team-mate Pule.
The runaway try took Taylor’s tally to 200 run metres for the night and capped a memorable game from the fullback.
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