The Indigenous All Stars defeated the NZ Maori All Stars 34-14 at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Friday night.
The Indigenous All Stars harnessed their passion for their culture and it translated into a win over the New Zealand Maori All Stars.
The game also saw a crowd of 18,802 at AAMI Park gather to watch this great new twist on this concept.
The Fox was let loose and with the fast finisher Latrell Mitchell showing why he is one of the fastest in the business, it all came together in a great showcase.
David Fifita, at only 18 years of age, showed his raw talent and announced himself as a huge star of the future at Red Hill.
Indigenous coach Laurie Daley knew his side didn’t stand a chance of matching it with the New Zealand Maori side if it became a contest through the middle of the field. This is why almost all of their tries were scored in the corners, getting the better of the Maori side through the speed of Jesse Ramien, James Roberts and Josh Addo-Carr.
The first points of the match came when New Zealand Maori winger Dane Gagai crossed out wide against the team he once represented.
In a booming opening to the match, the Indigenous team hit back when Addo-Carr latched on to a bouncing pass from Tyrone Roberts to score out wide.
‘The Fox’, in front of his home fans in Melbourne, bagged number two soon after, as Latrell Mitchell dragged in two defenders and put it on a platter for his winger to give the Indigenous All Stars a 10-6 lead.
But Gagai wasn’t about to let his opposite number continue his dominance, notching try number two soon after to level the scores.
Jesse Ramien showed why he could be one of the buys of the season for Newcastle when he took advantage of an Andrew Fifita offload, placing a well-timed kick into the corner for Bevan French to dive over.
On the stroke of half-time the Indigenous all Stars pushed out to a 20-10 advantage, but Blake Ferguson’s post-try celebration – an awkwardly executed backflip – received a bigger cheer than the try itself.
David Fifita earned a just reward for his toils, opening the account for the Indigenous side in the second half when he chased down a Cody Walker grubber for a 24-10 lead.
After a quiet first half by his high standards, Kalyn Ponga injected himself into the contest when he challenged the line and threw a perfect pass to put the rapidly-improving Esan Marsters over.
With the New Zealand Maori side trailing by 10 points, James Roberts burst into open space and sent his skipper Walker over to give his side a 28-14 lead with 16 minutes remaining.
The last try went to Josh Kerr, the Dragons forward who is yet to debut in the NRL, winning the race to a Tyrone Peachey grubber to ensure his side claimed the Arthur Beetson Trophy.
THE FOX AND TYRONE ROBERTS LEAD INDIGENOUS ALL STARS TO VICTORY
Josh ‘The Fox’ Addo-Carr, already an established star for the Storm and an Origin debutant last year, blew the game open for the Indigenous All-Stars in front of his home fans, with two tries in the first quarter after the Maori All Stars opened the scoring. The Gold Coast’s Tyrone Roberts won the Preston Campbell Medal, the sixth Indigenous All Stars player to do so, setting up Addo-Carr’s first try (with a big cut out pass) and kicking for Ferguson’s try.
FIFITA SHOWS HIS POTENTIAL
After an 11-game debut year for Brisbane in 2018, David Fifita showed his raw talent in this game (playing in the same team as cousin Andrew) and scored the first try of the second half, giving the Indigenous All Stars an unassailable lead. Continue that momentum and it could be a big year for Fifita and the Broncos.
FERGUSON’S AWKWARD POST-TRY CELEBRATION
Blake Ferguson has always been a flashy, at times risky, player. While Ferguson’s new side Parramatta surrendered a huge lead in the trail match against Canberra, Ferguson gave Eels coach Brad Arthur more stress with an extravagant post-try celebration. After touching down, Ferguson backflipped and momentarily stumbled but quickly regained his feet before being embraced by teammates. Arthur will be hoping for more tries (but safer celebrations) when the Eels open their season against Penrith.
MELBOURNE EMBRACE ALL STARS GAME
Melbourne rugby league fans came out on Friday night, with over 18,000 at AAMI Park, a great sign for the traditionally AFL-obsessed state. Hopefully a similar number attended the Storm’s blockbuster season opener against Brisbane on Thursday March 14. The Melbourne fans were treated to passionate war cries from both teams and an entertaining 10-try spectacle. The All Stars game began a huge sporting weekend in Melbourne, with the Melbourne Stars and Renegades playing the Big Big League grand final at Marvel Stadium on the Sunday.
INDIGENOUS ALL STARS 34
Tries: Josh Addo-Carr 2, Bevan French, Blake Ferguson, David Fifita, Cody Walker, Josh Kerr
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 3/7
NZ MAORI ALL STARS 14
Tries: Dane Gagai 2, Esan Marsters
Goals: Jordan Kahukuranui 1/3
INDIGENOUS ALL STARS: 1. Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs), 2. Blake Ferguson (Eels), 3. Latrell Mitchell (Roosters), 4. James Roberts (Broncos), 5. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm), 6. Cody Walker (captain – Rabbitohs), 7. Tyrone Roberts (Titans), 8. Andrew Fifita (Sharks), 9. Nathan Peats (Titans), 10. Leilani Latu (Titans), 14. Will Chambers (Storm), 12. Adam Elliott (Bulldogs), 13. Tyrone Peachey (Titans). Interchange: 11. David Fifita (Broncos), 15. Chris Smith (Bulldogs), 16. Jesse Ramien (Knights), 17. Bevan French (Eels), 18. Kotoni Staggs (Broncos), 19. Josh Kerr (Dragons), 20. Craig Garvey (Roosters).
NZ MAORI ALL STARS: 1. Peta Hiku (Warriors), 2. Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs), 3. Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), 4. Dean Whare (Panthers), 5. Jordan Kahukuranui (Broncos), 6. Kalyn Ponga (Knights), 7. Jahrome Hughes (Storm), 8. Jesse Bromwich (Storm), 9. Brandon Smith (Storm), 10. James Tamou (Panthers), 11. Kevin Proctor (Titans), 12. Adam Blair (captain – Warriors), 13. James Fisher-Harris (Panthers),. Interchange: 14. Danny Levi (Knights), 15. Brad Takairangi (Eels), 16. Gerard Beale (Warriors), 17. Tohu Harris (Warriors), 18. Corey Harawira-Naera (Bulldogs), 19. Kenny Bromwich (Cowboys),v20. Joseph Tapine (Raiders).