Queensland are in the box seat to reclaim the Women's State of Origin shield after recording a 18-10 win over defending champions NSW, whose co-captain Isabelle Kelly was taken to hospital with a throat injury.
Both sides were error-prone in the first game of the expanded-two match series in front of 12,972 fans - the biggest crowd for a women's State of Origin game - at Sydney's CommBank Stadium.
But Queensland's composure in attack at close range helped them hold off the Sky Blues and become the first Origin side to win in enemy territory since the NRLW's inception.
Now NSW will need to do the same in Townsville on June 22.
To retain the shield, the Sky Blues must win that game by nine points or more, per the points aggregation system implemented for the new two-match series.
"I honestly don't think we could play as bad as we did tonight," NSW coach Kylie Hilder said.
"We've got the talent there, it was just the execution and too many drop balls and too many penalties."
Kelly copped Julia Robinson's elbow in the throat as she attempted to tackle the Maroons winger just before halftime and fell to her haunches coughing up blood.
The game was inexplicably allowed to continue and, with the Blues down a player, the Maroons snatched the lead back through powerhouse forward Tazmin Gray and went into the sheds up 10-6.
Kelly needed the assistance of two trainers to leave the field and played no further part in the game, with second-rower Yasmin Clydsdale shifting to the centres.
"She's in hospital, she's not great," Hilder said of Kelly.
The Blues never reclaimed the lead, despite finding their feet in attack later in the game.
Starting at lock, Maroons skipper Ali Brigginshaw scooted out of dummy-half and then passed to Tamika Upton, whose cut-out pass to Robinson down the short side allowed Queensland to open the scoring.
Robinson had her second after half-time as the Maroons stretched out.
A pre-match hamstring injury to Tiana Penitani had forced Jess Sergis onto the wing on game day but the Sydney Roosters superstar floated infield to help the Blues hit back.
She stepped past Brigginshaw and crashed through Upton for a try and could have had a second had she not collided into Upton as she attempted a chip-and-chase in the second half.
At 18 years and 109 days old, five-eighth Jesse Southwell broke Brad Fittler's record to become NSW's youngest-ever Origin player but took time warming into the game.
She threw an intercept pass to Shenae Ciesiolka that led directly to the Maroons' third try just after the break and, along with NSW halfback Rachael Pearson, initially struggled to apply pressure with the boot.
But she combined with Emma Tonegato off a scrum play that helped Jaime Chapman score NSW's second, and then forced a drop-out that had the Sky Blues in control.
NSW had left their run too late, though, and could not bridge the gap.
"They just put effort upon effort and held NSW out late in that game," Queensland coach Tahnee Norris said.
"I thought they were outstanding."
Blues forward Sarah Togatuki could consider herself lucky to avoid the sin bin after up-ending Keilee Joseph in a dangerous throw in the minutes before half-time.
Maroons centre Eviana Pelite left the field with an ankle injury late in the match and did not return.