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'Best in the world': Fullback duel lights up All Stars

A scintillating display from Indigenous All Stars fullback Tamika Upton showed why she is the best player in the world, according to her coach, while opposite number Bo Vette-Welsh also stamped her class on the occasion.

While Dragon Jaime Chapman's two-try effort on the wing for Indigenous earned her the Trish Hina Medal for best on ground in the 18-8 win, Brisbane fullback Upton must have gone awfully close to claiming the honour for an attacking masterclass that included a stunning pass for Chapman's second try.

Eels recruit Vette-Welsh was arguably as good, with two brilliant pieces of attacking footy to set up two tries to Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly.

"'Meeks' speaks for herself, nothing fazes her," Indigenous coach Ben Jeffries said of his No.1.

"She's a real cool, calm customer. Her final touches on a couple of things. When we needed something she put her hand up.

Maori All Stars fullback Bo Vette-Welsh.
Maori All Stars fullback Bo Vette-Welsh. ©Brett Costello/NRL Photos

"She deserves the accolades she gets and she's arguably probably the best player in the world at this point in time."

Maori coach Keith Hanley was disappointed with the result but not with the effort of his side after a high-calibre contest, and made special mention of his fullback's efforts.

"I thought Bo was really strong; she's a great talent as a football player and an even better person," Hanley said.

Vette-Welsh fires for Maori

"It was a good opportunity for her to play in front of friends and family for the first time in a while. She showed some of what she's capable of."

There were plenty of standouts from both sides, with Hanley also impressed by the efforts of his middle forwards. Titans and Maori prop Shannon Mato easily topped the metres for either side with 191 while Eels and Maori lock Kennedy Cherrington made the second-most metres of any forward with 142, topping the tackle count for her side with 26.

"I thought some of our middle forwards on the carry were very good," Hanley added.

"Cherrington played some big minutes as well, she was tidy and young Autumn on debut was very good."

More than the individual performances, Jeffries was happy with the spirit the team showed after a tough off-season, a long time without any competitive footy and coming off a comprehensive 24-0 loss to Maori in the corresponding fixture a year ago.

Upton in ominous form ahead of NRLW 2021

"It's been a really good week. We were faced with some adversity," Jeffries said.

"The girls have bonded, created some unity. They did it for themselves, their mob and their families.

"It's been a massive week but to cap it off like that, they defended their arses off at times. I'm pretty proud as a coach.

"Their defence is getting better and better in the women's game. Their knowledge of the game is getting better and they're executing more and more. For the first game of the season, to play like that was a pretty good spectacle."

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour 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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