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Indigenous All Stars players celebrate a try.

His team may have been beaten but Indigenous All Stars coach Dean Widders can see only upside for a youthful group which included four players aged 19 and under.

The experience and guile of Maori Ferns hooker Krystal Rota proved the difference in a tight 8-4 victory but the margin could have been much greater if not for the defensive courage from Widders' young side.

Caitlan Johnston, Quincy Dodd and Shaylee Bent are all 18 and Akayla McQuire is 19, prompting Widders to declare "the future is bright for our team".

"A lot of girls were uncertain about their Aboriginality, their identification with their culture, their strength, their courage to play rugby league at the top level," he said.

"I think they all walked out the door knowing they can do great things on the field and off the field representing our culture."

Match Highlights: Indigenous Women's All Stars v NZ Maori Women's All Stars

Until Rota's 55th minute try, little had separated the sides as the Indigenous All Stars bravely defended their line despite having very little ball.

The weight of possession told in the end as Rota took her opportunity to crash over and secure an 8-4 win for the proud Maori Ferns outfit.

Winning coach Rusty Matua saved special praise for Rota, who turned in a five-star performance at the end of a difficult week in which her young daughter was hospitalised and her cousin passed away.

Press Conference: Indigenous All Stars Women

"My heart is overflowing right now. It is beating so hard," Matua said.

"We were a little bit overwhelmed by the occasion but we finished off really strong.

"Krystal saw the opportunity and got us the vital points that we needed at the right time.

"I am super proud of the girls. They have put so much work into this and it’s great to come away with a well-deserved victory for these girls."

Press Conference: Maori Ferns

Matua also saw the big picture from his side's performance and the overall quality of the game.

"I know this is going to inspire so many of our girls back home," he said.

"A big thank you to our supporters back home. We had mountains of support, we had hundreds and thousands of comments and likes (on social media) on our journey.

"It is wonderful to repay them with a victory."

Indigenous All Stars five-eighth Quincy Dodd.
Indigenous All Stars five-eighth Quincy Dodd. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Widders was delighted with the effort from his side but was left lamenting a host of missed opportunities when the scores were tied at 4-4.

"That is experience, that is composure and that comes with a bit of maturity," Widders said.

"I can't fault their efforts and toughness as far as giving it your best, playing for your teammates next to you and all their attitude.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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