Captain Corban McGregor praised her team for "keeping the foot on the throat" as the Maori team delivered an emphatic 24-0 win over the Indigenous All Stars in a thoroughly one-sided contest.
The Maori women led 12-0 after just 11 minutes and, fearing an Indigenous comeback, McGregor pulled her team together in a huddle to remind them the job was far from done in front of a vocal home crowd for the Indigenous women in Townsville.
Not only did the Maori side keep the Indigenous women scoreless, they ran in three more tries to ensure a dominant victory, avenging last year’s tough 10-4 loss on the Gold Coast.
“It was super important and we used that exact term after the second try, let's keep the foot on the throat and keep leading and pushing as hard as we can,” said McGregor.
“They are a strong side and they have some power coming back and we knew that if we gave them a chance they’d make the most of it so we definitely just wanted to keep dominating through the middle and things opened up for us.
"I had a taste of this game last year and we didn't come out on top so there was fire in the belly to get the win tonight."
Maori women's haka
Maori coach Keith Hanley was ecstatic with the result as his team – minus all their New Zealand-based players – produced a complete performance with powerful defence, skill and precision.
Whether it was halfback Zahara Temara orchestrating tries from pinpoint grubber kicks or the rampaging runs of front-row duo Rona Peters and 18-year-old rookie Mya Hill-Moana, the Maori women just had an answer for everything.
“We couldn’t possibly have scripted that,” Hanley said.
“Obviously it was still a very competitive contest. Credit to the Indigenous side. They never faded and never went away and again we just re-emphasize our love and respect for them.
“We have a very gifted group and they certainly came together today and were all singing the same theme song.”
Raecene McGregor won the player of the match award with her two-try effort while sister Page McGregor chimed in with a try of her own for a family treble.
Indigenous coach Ian Bourke said his team could never get themselves into the contest as sloppy handling in the wet conditions cost them dearly.
“We certainly learned the hard way tonight,” Bourke said.
“But I think the girls will learn a fair bit out of it.
Indigenous women's unity dance
“I don’t know the average age but it’s hovering probably around 20 to 21 and let’s be honest, that compared to the opposition is pretty experienced in key positions and unfortunately we couldn’t get into the rhythm or feel as though the energy was there.
“I’m definitely proud of the girls in the back end of the game.
“It’s not about the short-term event. It’s the long-term plan for the program.”
Indigenous skipper Tallisha Harden said her team were devastated by the result but it would only strengthen their resolve to become better footballers.
“The emotion at the end, a lot of them are pretty heartbroken,” she said.
“It’s tough when you lose but we’ll bounce back and I’m really excited to see what the girls do next and their pathway for the rest of the year.”