Andy Sumner and Terence Seu Seu were the standout players in the second annual Newcastle Rugby League All Stars fixture at St John Oval on Saturday.
The pair, on opposite teams, both played strongly out of dummy-half and were recognised at the awards ceremony but it was Sumner’s Indigenous All Stars side that claimed the main prize with a 34-22 victory over Seu Seu’s Newcastle All Stars squad.
Newcastle RL senior representative coach Phil Williams cast a careful eye over proceedings at the pre-season match and was impressed with a few performances without getting too carried away ahead of the Rebels official return later this year.
“It was pretty intense, but it was more of an exhibition match so I’m not reading too much into it,” Williams said.
“There were a couple of blokes who put their hands up and others that did themselves no harm either. But with round one not too far away I’ll be going around having a look.”
The 2018 season kicks off April 22 with the Newcastle Rebels, sidelined from the senior ranks last year when the NSW Country Championships reverted to under 23s, set down to play against the NSW Rugby League Ron Massey Cup squad in June before a combined group gets selected to tackle the Queensland Rangers.
Macquarie’s Sumner and Central’s Seu Seu may end up being invited to join the Rebels squad after their showings at the Charlestown venue.
Sumner’s Indigenous All Stars rallied late to claim the 2018 title after a see-sawing battle, scoring a try when up 24-22 despite being down two men in a power play.
“I thought our defensive attitude was the difference,” Indigenous All Stars coach Ron Griffiths said.
“We played with a lot of desire and hunger to win.”
The main injury concern out of the encounter was Lakes forward Dylan Hartin, who has sustained damage to his right knee, while Mitchell Cullen was concussed.
Meanwhile, controversial Cessnock recruit Paul Carter didn’t take part in Saturday’s match despite being picked for the Newcastle All Stars because the former NRL player’s clearance had not been approved in time.