While it was 3 tries a piece, the Indigenous side showed stoic defence and controlled possession slightly better to outscore the NRL stars with 2 conversions.
The sell out crowd of 27,000 at Skilled Stadium on the Gold Coast were treated to an impressive display of Rugby League – regardless of the pre-season timing, this was a game high in intensity and featured surprisingly strong defence for so early in the year.
The Indigenous were over to score through Wendell Sailor touching down in the corner of a short kick, big Dell roaring in for the touchdown and heading for the corner post to celebrate in a post try effort to mimic a didgeridoo player. The Indigenous side were given the ultimate confidence boost going in so early.
In a unique addition to the rules, the try scoring side was given the option of a ‘powerplay’ after touching down. In an almost identical style to that of the NFL (National Football League) in the USA, the scoring side can either choose to convert the try or opt to push for an additional try off one scoring play.
The secondary try cannot be off a kick and the ball cannot touch the ground at any stage in the leadup. The defending team cannot score off the single power play, and if the play fails – the game immediately reverts to the standard defending team kick off.
The commitment wasÂ there for all to see early, with Cronulla’s Indigenous rep Blake Ferguson amazingly running down a tearaway Israel Folau to prevent the NRL and Storm Allstar from scoring.
The game itself featured some impressive passages, with new face Sam Burgess easily best on ground. The big English forward showed solid line busting runs, silky offloads and impressive fitness levels as he chalked up big minutes. He rocked his opponents in defence, at one stage sending Buddy Gordon into next week as hit but on a big hit.
The halves combination of Scott Prince and Jonathan Thurston were the key for the Indigenous. With Darren Lockyer ousted early with an elbow injury, the makeshift setup of Finch and Marshall for the NRL Allstars didn’t have the same punch that their opponents had.
Prince and Thurson were consistently probing and giving their backs plenty to run off.
As the injury toll mounted for the NRL Allstars, Gidley and Jarryd Hayne soon rested too, after Lockyer left early.
A dummy half try to Rooster Ben Jones for the Indigenous had them at a nice lead, with the NRL side yet to register points.
Following up on the rewarding attacking plays, the defence for the Indigenous was outstanding. Twice they held up the NRL side over the line with first Jarryd Hayne, then Robbie Farah looking certain to score – only to be denied by committed Indigenous defence.
But moving into the 2nd and 3rd Quarters, the NRL side begun to get more possession which allowed them to get themselves onto the scoreboard.
Finch started to take control of the plays, as Sam Burgess gave his playmakers room to move behind his bullocking carries. Benji Marshall and fellow Kiwi Manu Vatuvei struggled to get involved, but Finch was doing enough to give the opposite flank some changes – setting up Jennings to score and get the NRL side going.
After struggling with his hands early, Kiwi Benji Marshall got over for the NRL All Stars – with the NRL outfit ahead by 2 points in the closing stages.
With the match looking likely to go the NRL’s way in the final moments, an opportunist try was scored by the heavily involved Jamie Soward.
The St George Illawarra half loitering around the left edge, and streaking away with good speed to get his side the win in the final minutes.