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Maroons forward Steph Hancock and coach Jason Hetherington.

It was a night the young guns stepped up and the old stagers showed the way in a women's State of Origin match like no other with strength, fitness, speed and raw talent on show.

She's been there from the near-beginning, through the highs and lows, so it was only fitting that Maroons champion Steph Hancock, in her 16th appearance, was in the middle of it all.

If it was Hancock's final game in a Maroons jersey, what better way to go out. Her legacy will live on in a Queensland side for years to come.

Finally, after four years of pain and suffering, Hancock's Maroons found reasons to smile as NSW's four-year stranglehold on interstate bragging rights came to an end on Friday night in what has been a season like no other.

Brigginshaw and Hancock lift shield

The match intensity was recorded at 25% higher than last year's game according to Telstra Tracker in a match that should begin discussions on where to next for the best female rugby league athletes in the interstate arena.

The 70-minute match was a step up from the 60-minute contests in this year's NRLW competition, and the extra 10 minutes of game time delivered in more ways than one.

Not only did the Blues stage a late fightback but the 42 points scored between both sides almost eclipsed the previous two years combined, producing a product of high-quality entertainment for TV viewers and spectators at the sold-out ground alike.

Things started shakily with eight errors apiece in the first half but both sides made amends with completion rates above 85 percent in the second, and individual brilliance came out to play.

Aiken gets a try of her own

The additional time also gave both sides time to overcome the big stage occasion – one they're not used to – and the game flowed better the longer it went on.

Without the 10-minute increase, the Maroons would've had the game well and truly wrapped up when Hancock darted over the line at 24-6.

NSW struck back with three tries in the final 11 minutes – who knows what would've happened if we got a further 10-minute extension and played a full 80 minutes in line with the men's game.

Another increase in the clock can't be too far away, and neither should expansion to a three-game series.

One Origin match doesn't give the players enough exposure in playing under pressure often to learn from their mistakes.

A three-game series should be viewed as a realistic option in the coming years.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

With the NRLW currently featuring four clubs or just 25 percent of the NRL supporter bases, women's State of Origin reaches and impacts a wider audience and needs further games on the representative calendar.

Unlike the NRLW where more teams and depth are required to expand, both states have built talent across state competitions and could play over three weeks in the middle of state seasons.

It should be the priority women's product to market to audiences in Australia.

For now, NSW will taste their first defeat in four years and have to wait another eight months to go again as Queensland have done for years previously.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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