A commanding display by NRL Women’s All Stars five-eighth Ali Brigginshaw orchestrated a convincing 26-8 win over the Indigenous Women’s All Stars at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.
Such was the performance of Brigginshaw it caught the notice of rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns midway through the first half as she scored a first-half try and directed her team throughout a highly entertaining clash in front of an appreciative crowd.
With a team laden with Jillaroos representatives, the NRL All Stars had all the early running on the back of a trio of penalties, however the Indigenous defence held firm until the eighth minute when winger Kellye Hodges crossed in the corner following a nice cut-out pass from fullback Sam Hammond.
With Heather Balliger and Steph Hancock making plenty of metres up the middle, the NRL team crossed again two minutes later when Brigginshaw dived over wide out.
Brigginshaw put in a pin-point kick to the left corner which was collected by Hodges and after a quick exchange of passing Brigginshaw dived over, Hancock’s conversion extending the lead to 10 points.
After seeing very little of the ball in the opening 15 minutes, the Indigenous team worked their way into the contest over the next 10 minutes but again conceded a try in the 24th minute when centre Annette Brander crossed in the right corner on the back of a big run from Hancock for a 14-0 advantage.
The biggest cheer of the half however came in the minute prior to half-time when Indigenous fullback Mahalia Murphy cut through the NRL defence and her teammates made good use of the field position with a try to winger Latoya Billy in the left corner for a 14-4 scoreline at the break.
Although they lost momentum going into half-time the NRL All Stars quickly re-established their dominance with two tries to player of the match Kezie Apps in the opening seven minutes of the second half to race out to a 26-4 lead.
Playing on the right edge, Apps was unlucky not to score in the opening 30 minutes and as the defence tired her line-running exposed holes in the Indigenous defence.
The Indigenous team brought the crowd to their feet on numerous occasions in the second half with exciting passages of play from deep in their own territory but more often than not their efforts came undone at the hands of poor ball control.
Five-eighth Casey Karklis and hooker Caitlin Moran often provided the spark for the Indigenous team with Karklis laying on a second try to Billy in the 54th minute with a cut-out pass to the left corner after making a bust through the NRL defence on the previous play.
NRL Women’s All Stars 26 (Kezie Apps 2, Kellye Hodges, Ali Brigginshaw, Annette Brander tries; Brigginshaw 2, Steph Hancock goals) def. Indigenous Women’s All Stars 8 (Latoya Billy 2 tries).