Courtesy of Ben Wilmott at the QT
JUST like the early days of State of Origin, Ipswich players dominated the men’s and women’s interstate clash between Queensland and New South Wales on the weekend.
Played at separate venues on the Gold Coast, it was the women who got things started on Saturday at CBUS Stadium.
Ipswich’s Ali Brigginshaw and Brittany Breayley joined five teammates from Souths in the Queensland women’s team who were looking to extend their 17 year dominance of the Nellie Doherty Cup.
Unfortunately it would be NSW walking away with a nail-biting 8-4 win to end one of the most successful Queensland sporting dynasties in history.
Despite the loss, it was still a successful outing for the Ipswich duo. While Breayley was awarded the team;s players player award, Brigginshaw scored the only try for Queensland in a fantastic return to representative football after suffering a horror injury last year.
With three Ipswich Jets representatives in Chris Ash, Lachlan Roe and Ono So’oialo this time it was Queensland who emerged 11-4 winners under coach Craig Grauf.
“It was a tough game and all three Ipswich boys did a great job,” Grauf said. “Ono was fantastic and Roe played the full 80 minutes in the back row. He was great on his edge, he put his body into everything and his defence and contact were great.”
To cap off a brilliant year as captain of the Jets BRL side and the Ipswich Diggers, Ash was handed the role of Rangers captain by Grauf during camp.
Rising to the occasion it was Ash who placed a perfectly waited kick into the in-goal for So’oialo to pounce and open up the scoreline. With a six point lead it was Ash who kicked the field goal to seal the victory for Queensland.
“Chris is a natural leader and an obvious choice for us,” Grauf said. “He was passionate about playing for us and made a big sacrifice to be with us instead of playing for the Jets against Burleigh on the weekend. I couldn’t thank Ben and Shane Walker enough for allowing all three to be there.”
While it was his teammates who appeared on the scoreboard, the chance to represent his state was a feather in the cap for the Ipswich born Roe.
After a stint with the Parramatta Eels and Burleigh Bears, Roe said the decision to return to Ipswich had paid dividends.
“Just finding out I was selected in the Rangers was massive for me,” he said. ” I felt so comfortable having players I already knew around me and we were feeling pretty confident after a great week in camp.
“We knew it would be a tough game but Ash is always good for it and Ono is always going to score some points. I loved the experience.”
A former contestant on The NRL Rookie, the Jets back rower is never afraid to put his body on the line.
Up against a NSW side full of NRL experience, Roe said spending the year at the Jets had him playing the best football of his life.
“The contact side of things was very physical but I just threw myself into it,” he said. “I moved back to Ipswich with Rory Humphreys and I didn’t really expect anything to come out of it.
“But since coming to the Jets I feel like I’ve been getting better and better. I wasn’t really feeling that confident in other teams but I guess coming of age and the experience has made a different.”
With a licence to play adventurous football under the Jets expansive style, Roe said he felt there was even better to come.
“It’s becoming more fun and that has everything to do with the way we play at the Jets,” he said.
“The style allows players to show off their natural talent that you might otherwise not get the chance to do with other clubs.
“It’s funny but I still feel like I haven’t played up to the standard I am capable of. I feel like I have more to offer.”
QLD v NSW
Queensland Rangers 11 (Kennedy Pettybourne, Ono So’oialo tries; Ono So’oialo goal, Chris Ash field goal) def NSW Ron Massey Cup team 4 (Joel Latham try) at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
NSW Women 8 (Simaima Taufa-Kautai try; Maddie Studdon 2 goals) def Queensland Women 4 (Ali Brigginshaw try) at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.