Two tries to teenager Jaime Chapman and a masterclass from fullback Tamika Upton led the Indigenous All Stars to an 18-8 win over the Maori All Stars at CommBank Stadium on Saturday night.
After suffering a heavy 24-0 defeat in last year's clash revenge was sweet for the Indigenous side, who have squared the ledger at 2-2 across the four years of the contest.
A runaway try by Chapman in the second quarter gave the Indigenous side a 6-0 lead before Bo Vette-Welsh produced a dazzling 30-metre burst and found Tiana Raftstrand-Smith who sent the final pass to Autum-Rain Stephens Daly for the Maoris' opening try.
Chapman had her second just after half-time when Upton produced a superb cut-out pass and the Indigenous side had a 12-4 lead thanks to Kirra Dibb's second conversion.
Debutante Stephens Daly then grabbed a double of her own courtesy of a brilliant cut-out pass by Vette-Welsh and the Maori were back within four points.
A barnstorming try from close range for Eels prop Tommaya Kelly-Sines put the game beyond doubt for the Indigenous side as they made it 18-8.
Match: Maori Women's v Indigenous Women’s
Round 1 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
The speedsters may take all the glory but it was up front where the foundation was laid with Caitlan Johnston (10 runs for 86 metres) and Keilee Joseph (10 runs for 75 metres) leading the way for the winners while Shannon Mato (22 runs for 191 metres) was inspirational for the Maori.
- No.1 guns Tamika Upton and Bo Vette-Welsh dug deep into their bag of tricks with try assists, tackle breaks and countless reminders of their class in an intriguing duel.
- Indigenous hooker Quincy Dodd got through a power of work in the middle with 26 tackles and was a key factor in the victory while Kennedy Cherrington racked up 30 tackles for the Maori.
- Skipper Caitlan Johnston gave her Indigenous team-mates a massive lift during the first half when she powered across in cover defence to bundle rival prop Shannon Mato into touch. Johnston looks set for a huge NRLW season with the Knights.
- The online defence by the Indigenous team as the Maori launched a number of late raids was inspirational.
- Chapman's dazzling debut was rewarded with the Trish Hina Medal as the player of the match.
Chapman wins the Trish Hina medal for 2022
Play of the Game
Jaime Chapman lit up CommBank Stadium with an exhilarating 90-metre burst for the opening try of the game to give the Indigenous side the lead. With the Maori on the attack and threatening to post first points it was Corban Baxter who came up with the mistake and Chapman swooped.
Chapman with the opening try
What They Said
"Jaime has had some adversity thrown at her all week [with a tight calf]. She was pretty much wrapped up in cotton wool, she didn't know if she was playing, had a fitness test Friday morning, and then how she played, and for a young girl to prepare herself mentally and go out and produce that is really special and that could be the telling point of her career." - Indigenous All Stars coach Ben Jeffries
"What a game. What a week. It was such an awesome way to celebrate two beautiful cultures and we lapped up every second of it. This moment here is more than just a game, to celebrate our heritage and our culture, and I want to congratulate the Indigenous girls on one hell of a match, you girls came out roaring and full of fire." - Maori captain Corban Baxter at the post-match presentation.
For the majority of players who strutted their stuff in Sydney tonight it's on to round one of the NRLW season, which kicks off with a massive triple-header at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Sunday, February 27.