Indigenous All Stars winger Nakia Davis-Welsh turned in a blinder to inspire a 10-4 win over the Maori Ferns after a triumphant return to the team she debuted for as a 16-year-old.
The 23-year-old Women’s World Cup-winning fullback missed a year of football after having her first child and subsequently was unavailable for the Roosters in the inaugural season of the NRLW in 2018. She gave birth to a baby boy in April of 2019.
Davis-Welsh is back with a vengeance and was a worthy player of the match.
Match: Indigenous v Maori
Round 1 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
She came up with three magic plays to fire her side to victory.
With the scores locked at 4-all in the final quarter, captain Tallisha Harden leapt high to catch a mid-field bomb by halfback Jenni-Sue Hoepper.
Davis-Welsh showed great alertness to support and then put the afterburners on to leave the Maori defenders clutching at air to score the match-winner..
Earlier Davis-Welsh had set up the first try with a freakish offload and saved a crucial try with a crunching one-on-one tackle.
The Maori started on fire and soon posted the first try when powerhouse centre Kerehitina Matua barged over early from a slick ball from half Sarina Fiso Clark.
An outstanding kicking game by Indigenous All Stars halfback Hoepper early helped her side get some repeat sets. The Maori defended with gusto and repelled several charges at their line and it took a piece of individual brilliance to crack them.
Davis-Welsh, from close range, beat five players before slipping a magic ball in traffic to dynamic centre Steph Mooka who scored wide out to level it up at 4-all at quarter time.
Indigenous five-eighth Simone Smith kicked and regathered twice to fire her side’s second quarter attack. Maori fullback Botille Vette-Welsh was placed on report for a shoulder charge on Indigenous centre Rhiannon Revell-Blair in the 20th minute as the Indigenous women made another raid.
The Maori were their own worst enemies with numerous handling errors but they scrambled well in defence with several last-ditch tackles saving the day.
A try saver by Davis-Welsh on her opposite number Kiana Katairangi was the big play of the third quarter as the teams went to the final change locked at 4-all.
Maori five-eighth Raecene McGregor had some nice touches throughout with her strategic kicking game always a threat.
Indigenous fullback Shakiah Tungai showed great bravery to defuse several kicks and the left the field early in the final quarter with a shoulder injury after being crunched by Maori prop Harata Butler.
It was left to Davis-Welsh, courtesy of a flying leap by her captain, to ice the cake for the Indigenous All Stars in a performance that showcased why she is one of the world’s most exciting outside backs in the women’s game.
Indigenous All Stars coach Ben Jeffries praised Davis-Welsh and said "I am pretty proud of her and show she has come back".
"Obviously she’s had a pregnancy and given birth. [To play so well] is probably to be expected, because of her experience, but to do that on a big stage is very well played," he said.
Indigenous All Stars captain Tallisha Harden said the flying winger was a real pro.
"Off the field she is real energetic and loves to have fun. On the field she is so cool calm and collected," Harden said.
"Her family has come up and made the trip. I knew she was going to have a big game today."
Indigenous Unity Dance