Māori All Stars delivered a stirring haka, as they lay down the challenge to the Indigenous side in their annual NRL All-Star game.
Kiwi legend Benji Marshall led an emotion-charged haka before kickoff that set the tone for a fiery affair, including a sin bin and big hits to kick-start the new Aussie rugby league season.
Former Warriors players Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Patrick Herbert and Issac Luke were front and centre of the war dance in front of a packed Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, North Queensland.
The Indigenous side followed up with their tribal dance, led by Cronulla Sharks forward Andrew Fifita, captain Kody Walker and Gold Coast Titans halfback Jamal Fogarty, along with 11 Aboriginal dancers.
Both teams came together after their respected pre-game traditions to share a moment of respect that had fans moved and charged up for the season-opening game.
The clash went down to the wire in an absorbing contest that ended in a 10-all draw, after a miscommunication error cost the home side a chance at victory. Māori All-Stars raced out to a 10-2 lead, with Jordan Riki and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossing for four-pointers.
The Indigenous All-Stars responded with an Alex Johnston try, but with a minute left and the home side down 10-8, coach Laurie Daley told his captain to go for the win.
Walker didn't get the message or misinterpreted the instructions, and went for the penalty goal to tie the game, unaware there was no extra time.
Penrith Panthers back-rower James Fisher-Harris was a standout in the contest and fittingly received the Preston Campbell Medal for Man of the Match.
The players will now head back to their respective NRL sides, with the season kicking off in just three weeks.
Join us for live updates of the NZ Warriors' 2021 NRL campaign, kicking off on March 13.