In a game that was as one-sided as the pregame War Dance, we saw the Indigenous All-Stars take the field with a very strong team and absolutely monster the World All-Stars. On this hot summer’s night, in a game split into quarters due to the heat, we saw an entertaining game that was dominated by the magic of JT and a support cast in which every player was a strong contributor. The World side was clunky in the start and apart from some splashes of individual brilliance, were out-classed in every position across the park.
Point 1: The pace of the game was not a challenge to the Origin or test series. With the temperature near boiling point, and the air still, both sides were committed but the level of play was a step down from what we hope to see when the regular season kicks in soon. Whilst it was faster and more committed than any trial game, you could see the players knocking off the rust of the post season and most will be better for it.
Point 2: Jared Croker’s injury. A serious knee injury to the Canberra stalwart may have significant on how they fare this season. Never good to see a player down, but Ricky Stuart would be cursing (more than normal) under his breath seeing him in pain in a game that has no bearing on his season. Minor injuries would have had a number of other coaches worried as they saw Blake Ferguson and Greg Inglis also shake off leg injuries that will also be concerning their teams. The odd head clash and players getting up seeing stars showed that while the pace was not high, the commitment was definitely there.
Point 3: Johnathan Thurston was a key difference between the two sides and was a well deserving Preston Campbell Medal. His cross-field kick to Dane Gagai was indicative of his class and impact on the game. He was rested during the game and you noticed the attack falter. As a Cowboys fan, I am proud of my Captain, but every fan of the game enjoys watching this guy play against every other team but their own.
Point 4: Excellent crowd numbers in Newcastle. More than 20 thousand turned up to support the concept of the All-Stars and got to enjoy the end to end spectacle. The contest was well supported with so many staying on to ensure the players knew their efforts were appreciated. The game will be shelved next year due to the world cup and by getting this excellent turnout will help keep the concept alive.
Final Score: Indigenous All-Stars 34 defeated the World All-Stars 8
Tries: (Jack Bird, Blake Ferguson, Ash Taylor, Johnathan Thurston, Dane Gagai, Leilani Latu tries; Johnathan Thurston 4, Aidan Sezer 1 goals)
World All Stars 8 (David Mead, Nene Macdonald tries)