Rugby League: Maori All-Stars claim win over Indigenous All-Stars in NRL season curtain raiser

A shoulder charge on Ramien from Maori All-Stars fullback Jordan Rapana gave the Native All-Stars a shot on goal. Rapana was trashed for 10 minutes, as was Indigenous All Stars mainstay Andrew Fifita for his retaliation for the incident.

But with the two teams down to 12 men, the Māori All-Stars tied the score thanks to utility NZ Warriors and co-captain Kodi Nikorima, who held off a tackle from Indigenous All Stars’ Tyrell Fuimaono to score under the poles.

The Māori All-Stars then took the lead before half-time, as a move down the left edge saw winger Patrick Herbert put in the exchange Esarn Masters to score in the corner.

Down 6-0, the Māori All-Stars had rallied to lead 10-6 at the break.

In the second half, Ramien was the second Indigenous All-Stars player to be sent to the trash after knocking out Kenny Bromwich in the middle of an attack by the Maori All-Stars. And with the power play, the Māori All-Stars didn’t need a second invite to add to their lead.

And after being disallowed in the first half, nothing stopped Tapine from scoring in the second. From the resulting set after Ramien’s sin, Tapine fought his way over the try line at close range, fending off three native All Stars defenders to do so.

Down 10, the Indigenous All Stars threatened a late comeback, as Tyrell Sloan latched on to a kick from Nicho Hynes to score in the corner and take the deficit to six points.

The Native All Stars had one last chance to level the scores in the 80th minute, as Brent Naden stabbed a kick for Josh Addo-Carr.

But Maori All-Stars center Reimis Smith got there first and struck the ball into touch to seal the win for his side.

“Every time I call the players, they’re so passionate about representing their heritage,” Māori All-Stars coach David Kidwell said after the game.

“The game is the icing on the cake of the culture that we make within the camp, and then we get the end product with the game.