Latrell Mitchell’s late penalty ensured the NRL All Stars clash between the Indigenous and Maori teams finished all square at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday.
Debutant Jamal Fogarty had kicked the Indigenous team ahead with a penalty in the first half and that proved enough to give them a 2-0 lead at the break.
That was despite the Maoris having enjoyed the lion’s share of the territory in the first 40 minutes, although their cause was not helped by Zane Musgrove being sent to the sin-bin and place on report for a shoulder charge.
Nevertheless, the Maoris roared into life after the break and took the lead nine minutes after the restart when Benji Marshall set up Jordan Riki to finish.
Four minutes later, Joseph Manu intercepted a pass from Fogarty and stepped on the gas to 60 metres up field followed by passing to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to score.
The Indigenous team hit back in the 64th minute when full-back Mitchell put in a grubber kick for South Sydney Rabbitohs clubmate Alex Johnston to draw the side within two.
That produced a frantic finish to the contest, but ultimately the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils when Mitchell kicked a penalty from close range in the final two minutes.
McGregor lead the way in Maori triumph
Earlier in the night, two tries apiece from Raecene McGregor helped the Maoris to a 24-0 victory over the Indigenous side in the Women’s All Stars game.
Stand-off McGregor got the ball rolling for the Maoris, who were without their New Zealand-based players due to Covid-19 border restrictions, in the third minute when half-back partner Zahara Temara’s kick hit the posts and bounced kindly for her.
Tamara was involved in the second try too, setting up Amy Turner to finish, and that was followed by Shanice Parker powering through to dot down after the winger had taken a quick tap from a penalty.
Page McGregor punished an error with the Maori’s fourth try just before half-time and Raecene McGregor completed her haul in the 45th minute when she burst out of dummy-half and brushed aside the defence to score.
That proved enough to put the seal on the win in Townsville, seeing the Maoris reclaim the All Stars title following the Indigenous team’s 10-4 victory on the Gold Coast in 2020.