A Johnathan Thurston masterclass orchestrated an Indigenous All Stars 34-8 rout of the World All Stars in Newcastle.
Man of the match Thurston turned the game early in the second half, scoring a key try before laying on an inch-perfect kick for Dane Gagai to seal the result on Friday night in front of 20,241 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.
After Mel Meninga’s World team scored two tries in the shadows of half-time to make a game of it at 16-8, the Indigenous outfit found another gear.
First, Parramatta speedster Bevan French, who looks set to build on his standout rookie year, put in a curling chip off the side of his boot which bounced up for Thurston.
Thurston then outshone his younger teammate with an even better kick, putting the ball in between two defenders for Gagai.
The Indigenous team had plenty of standouts including Gold Coast half Ash Taylor and Cronulla pair Andrew Fifita – who ran for 175m – and Wade Graham.
Greg Inglis provided the highlight of the game when he received a hand off from Fifita and went on a bulldozing run downfield, flattening three defenders including Tepai Moeroa.
— NRL (@NRL) February 10, 2017
The game was played in 33-degree heat with the likes of Blake Ferguson and Mitchell Moses coming off in the second half after the stifling conditions took their toll.
Canberra faces a nervous wait after skipper Jarrod Croker was taken from the field in the 50th minute with what appeared to be a left knee injury after having his leg pinned under him in a three-man tackle.
He cried out in pain and slapped the turf in frustration before being taken up the tunnel with what was believed to be a medial ligament injury.
The Indigenous All Stars shot out of the blocks to a 16-0 lead at the quarter-time break before the World side reeled them back in with a dubious four-pointer to David Mead and a Nene MacDonald try in the shadows of the break.
However, the Indigenous team proved too strong in the second half.