In a tight contest at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night Cameron Smith has led the World All Stars to victory over Greg Inglis’ Indigenous side by 12-8.
Doubts were cast over the future of the annual fixture before kick-off. The National Rugby League will be heartened with the attendance figure of 37,339 and is likely to add weight to players calls for the game to be played beyond 2016.
The players responded with some tough, physical football mixed in with a high error rate that comes with the early games each season.
A few sets of six inside the Indigenous twenty lacked punch from the World side, unable to capitalise field position into points at different stages of the opening quarter. The first forty-twenty of the season went to Cameron Smith and almost resulted in Kane Evans crossing, the ‘bunker’ judging the Rooster to drop the ball in trying to force the ball.
Nene McDonald’s fumble in goal gave the Indigenous side their best chance of the first twenty only for Sam Thiaday to drop the ball as he tried to squeeze through a tight hole. At the end of the first quarter no score had been posted.
After a pedestrian first twenty the game started to fire up thanks to Marty Tapau. His fend off one and then a second lifted the game’s intensity. Michael Ennis’ legal shot on Edrick Lee was another highlight as the clock went into the thirties without score.
Finally, somewhat controversially it was Konrad Hurrell who ran a straight line and used his pure strength to cross the try line. Referee Matt Cecchin allowed play to continue as the ball spilled out over the goal line before asking for the bunker down in Sydney to decide whether it was a try. Different angles provided positive and negatives for Hurrell’s grounding which was eventually given the green light.
Right on half time it was the Penrith connection of Jamie Soward and last-minute selected Leilani Latu combining to give the Indigenous their first of the evening. Soward going along way to prove that he’s worthy of selection in the Panthers side despite Matt Moylan and Te Maire Martin breathing down the veteran’s neck to be the new halves pairing. Both sides going into the sheds locked up at four-all.
It didn’t take long after the break for the World All Stars to take back the lead. Former Storm pairing of Ryan Hoffman and Gareth Widdop set up Semi Radradra for the first of many he’ll score during this season.
Radradra’s try provided was the catalyst to provide to the game opening up after a physical first fifty minutes. Jack Wighton got over the line for the Indigenous and in doing so, copped a head knock on the way down leaving the Raider to leave the field under the concussion rule. This time the bunker decided Wighton lost the ball over the line.
Adam Reynolds had a lot to prove after a frustrating 2015 for the Rabbitohs. We started to see the best of Reynolds in the final half hour with good depth kicks in goal complimenting his control in the seven jumper. His penalty goal with twenty-three to go put the World All Stars ahead by eight going into the final quarter.
Three minutes into the final twenty it was Soward again setting up a try for the Indigenous with a long ball finding the electric Dane Gagai to score out wide.
Finally the Indigenous looked in control and opportunities came and went. Wade Graham’s kick after breaking the defence was innocuously tapped over the dead ball line by McDonald when for all money the ball was heading out.
Wayne Bennett’s World side played smart field position and Reynolds smart footy in the final stages ensured their side would break the Indigenous winning streak of two matches.
English International James Graham awarded the prestigious Preston Campbell medal for best on field.
WORLD ALL STARS 12
Tries: Konrad Hurrell, Semi Radradra
Goals: Adam Reynolds 2
INDIGENOUS ALL STARS 8
Tries: Leilani Latu, Dane Gagai
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
POLL: Will the All Stars game return in 2017? #NRLAllStars
— NothingButRL (@NothingButRL) February 14, 2016