NRL: The NRL All-stars match is always a special event on the rugby league calendar and the war dance has kicked off proceedings.
THE Indigenous women’s team have claimed their first ever victory in the All Stars fixture, running out 14-4 winners in Newcastle.
The Indigenous defence was outstanding in near-40 degree heat at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle as they limited the chances of the Women’s All Stars and forced them into touch a number of times near the line to stay in control of the game.
In a match that had been largely billed as a Jillaroos trial, plenty of the young Indigenous players put forward a strong case to selectors, none more so than Simone Smith.
The halfback was named player of the match and caused plenty of headaches for the Women’s team.
She said the Women’s World Cup at the end of the year was definitely on her mind now.
“I think after tonight, plenty of people have supported me and told me I can be there, so I think after tonight’s performance, I’m really happy with how I went,” Smith said.
“If I stick hard at it and work my butt off and keep that as one goal I think I can get there in the World Cup team.”
The Indigenous team opened the scoring late in the second quarter after a run from Smith put them in a good position downfield.
Play had been held up for about five minutes after their second-rower Kandy Kennedy dislocated her kneecap.
The Indigenous women rallied once play resumed and scored on the next set of six.
After Smith’s run, the ball ended up with centre Caitlin Moran on the left side. She put in a deep cross-field kick that bounced back in-goal over the head of Women’s halfback Maddie Studdon for Indigenous interchange Samantha Leisha to score.
They added to their total early in the third quarter then late in the fourth to finish with the 10-point win.
The Women’s team scored a consolation try right on full-time but it was dominant defence from the Indigenous team and a hungrier attack that lifted them to the win.
“The Indigenous girls just had it all over us to be honest,” said Women’s All Stars co-captain Steph Hancock.
“They’re playing for each other, they’re playing for their culture and it’s a massive game for them and for us too — all the players out there are playing for a Jillaroos spot and if that’s not enough for them then what are you playing for.
“We couldn’t complete our sets and the rate of our possession must have been terrible but they played for it, they deserve it, good on them.”
Jillaroos and Indigenous back Moran was another standout, proving a handful in attack and defence.
A decent crowd was treated to some entertaining football.
The stands had filled up by the second half, as plenty of fans arrived early for the double header and even the men’s Indigenous team braved the heat to watch the second stanza from the sideline.