Tingha’s Bevan French played an important role as the Indigenous All Stars dominated their World counterparts on Friday night.
French’s side recorded an emphatic 34-8 win in front of a crowd of 20,241.
The brilliant winger will long remember his representative debut, coming off the bench to make a telling contribution with his very first touch.
Just as the World All Stars looked to be getting back into the contest at 16-8, French swung the match back in his side’s favour.
During the initial stages of the second half, French found space and after racing into the clear, produced a banana kick in-field for Johnathan Thurston to score a telling try.
The Parramatta flyer remained on the left flank until the siren, which signified a great night for the Indigenous All-Stars.
French made 60m from his five runs and laid a tackle.
The Indigenous side burst out of the blocks after an inspiring pre-match war dance.
In the fourth minute, Dragons back-rower Joel Thompson burst into the clear, drew the cover defence and slipped a clever pass to centre Jack Bird, who crashed over beside the right-hand upright.
Three minutes later, a World team error deep in their own territory allowed the Indigenous side to to spin the ball to the right edge from the scrum win, and Test winger Blake Ferguson scored in the corner.
Another handling mistake gifted the Indigenous team their third try, when Thurston snaffled a loose ball and sent rookie halfback Ash Taylor over untouched.
Thurston's conversion made it 16-0 at the first-quarter break.
A cricket score appeared to be looming for the World XIII, for whom Australia's Four Nations stars such as Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Darius Boyd were not available, and who lost Jarryd Hayne after suffering a knee injury at last week's Auckland Nines.
But the underdogs hit back at the back end of the second quarter, firstly with a scrappy try by David Mead, then through a backline move finished in the corner by Nene McDonald.
That reduced the deficit to 16-8 by the half-time break and suggested a fightback might be on the cards.
Until French announced his arrival and started what was a run of three unanswered tries to the Indigenous All-Stars, sealing a popular win.
The only sour note to the night was a potentially serious injury to Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker whose left leg was caught in an awkward tackle during the third quarter.
Scans on Saturday revealed Croker is likely to miss between 6-8 weeks after dislocating his patella, a blow for the Raiders.
- Indigenous All Stars 34 (Jack Bird, Blake Ferguson, Ash Taylor, Johnathan Thurston, Dane Gagai, Leilani Latu tries; Johnathan Thurston 4, Aidan Sezer 1 goals) d World All Stars 8 (David Mead, Nene Macdonald tries). Crowd: 20,241.