Indigenous All Stars captain Tallisha Harden has hailed the 10-4 win over the Maori Ferns as a "massive" career highlight after finally getting the result she craved as skipper.
Harden was enormous for her side at lock and came up with the crucial play with the scores locked at 4-all in the final quarter when she leapt high to catch a Jenni-Sue Hoepper bomb and unfurl a slick offload for player of the match Nakia Davis-Welsh to score.
"It is a massive, massive highlight. I think the other times I've been fortunate to be captain of the All Stars we haven't won," Harden said of the win.
"To get your first win as a captain is always something special but in saying that we have so many young leaders in our group who are talking, energetic and so vibrant.
"[Prop] Caitlan Johnston out there was huge. For a 19-year-old to want to be the one to take the first hit-up and d-up really hard is so refreshing to see.
"These young girls coming through are going to be twice as good as us at our age. There is so much potential there."
Match Highlights: Indigenous All Stars v Maori Ferns
Harden was not surprised that Davis-Welsh was so dominant.
"She is so hard to play against so it is nice to be in the same jersey as her," Harden said.
"She is one of those players that does a lot of one-per-centers well. You don't notice it but then you watch a game back and she is pushing up in support and always there to support. To score that try at the end, she did so well."
Match: Indigenous Women’s v Maori Women's
Round 1 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
As for the match-winning play Harden gave credit to the advice of coach Ben Jeffries and said it was "a beautiful kick by Jenni after some really nice lead-up play".
"She has put up a really high kick and one thing Ben has reinforced during the week is to do the one-per-centers and push up and be there," Harden said.
"As soon as I grabbed it Nakia's voice just popped out. I knew she'd be there and she grabbed it."
Maori Ferns coach Rusty Matua said his side's poor completion rate cruelled their chances but was proud of the effort.
The performance of barnstorming centre Kerehitina Matua, the coach's niece, caught the eye. She also plays prop, but her try in the opening minutes with a bullocking run showcased her rare talent as a footballer.
"Last year she was a prop, but she plays centre back home in club football and scored 52 tries in a season," Rusty said.