February 12th 2022
as seen on NRL.com
A captain’s knock from Joe Tapine has spearheaded the Māori All Stars to a 16-10 win over the Indigenous All Stars at CommBank Stadium on Saturday night.
Tapine revelled in the responsibility handed to him by Maori coach David Kidwell, scoring a crucial try and running for 125 metres with seven tackle breaks.
The match was played in heavy rain but it did nothing to detract from the intensity as both packs muscled up early before the Indigenous All Stars struck first through Jesse Ramien.
The try was set up by a rampaging David Fifita, who busted the Maori defence wide open down the right and found Ramien on the inside for 6-0.
Sensational lead-up work by middle forwards James Fisher-Harris and Joe Tapine led to the Maoris’ opening four-pointer to the elusive Kodi Nikorima in the 25th minute and eight minutes later they had a second through Esan Marsters.
Indigenous hooker Reuben Cotter looked certain to level the scores at 10-10 on the 50-minute mark but lost the ball as he stretched out to plant it down. Three minutes later Josh Curran also went close for the Indigenous side when he put his body on the line trying to ground a Nicho Hynes grubber but desperate Maori defence denied him.
The Maori stretched their lead to 16-6 when Tapine produced some neat footwork close to the line and slammed the ball down but exciting young Dragon Tyrell Sloan closed the gap again when he scored off another pinpoint Hynes grubber.
A mistake by Morgan Harper handed the Indigenous side one last chance to salvage a draw but a desperation defensive play by Reimis Smith denied Laurie Daley’s side.
Players from both sides blew off some steam in the opening quarter as tensions boiled over on two occasions. The All Stars game is always high on emotion and right from the haka and the war cry through to the final whistle the contest was a beauty and the perfect way to launch the season.
David Fifita was at his damaging best in the opening quarter, leaving Patrick Herbert, Dylan Walker and Chanel Harris-Tavita in his wake as he raced 45 metres up field and sent a perfectly timed pass inside for Jesse Ramien to open the scoring. A nice pass from new Shark Nicho Hynes put Fifita into space and the 20-year-old made a fearsome sight as he powered down the right side.
The NRL season is under a month away and preparations ramp up with a series of trial games starting next Friday with a double-header at Leichhardt Oval featuring the Roosters taking on the Raiders followed by the Sea Eagles against Wests Tigers. On Saturday the Storm and Warriors will raise funds for the victims of the Tongan volcanic eruptions and tsunami in January when they square off at Casey Fields in Melbourne, while the Cowboys and Rabbitohs play in Cairns and the Titans face the Broncos on the Gold Coast. On Sunday it’s a double-header at CommBank Stadium with the Panthers v Sharks followed by Eels v Dragons and rounding out a huge weekend of trials the Knights meet the Bulldogs in Newcastle on Monday.