GALLERY: Thrills, spills and fun at Legends of League
RUGBY LEAGUE: It promised to be a spectacle and the Australian and Gladstone Allstars match delivered just that at Marley Brown Oval on Saturday night.
Fans were treated to 16 tries, including a hat-trick from Matt Bowen, as the Aussie Legends held off a late fightback to claim a 44-38 victory.
The game was a tale of two halves as Australia owned the opening stanza to jump out to a 28-8 half-time lead.
The crowd waited less than three minutes for Bowen to score his opening try, combining cleverly with Ashley Harrison to score under the posts.
Former Brisbane Broncos lock Terry Matterson wound the clock back to the 1990s with a trademark toe-poke conversion to hand the Aussies a 6-0 lead.
Another Australian try was met with back-to-back tries to Gladstone players Shad Roysten and Ashley Dodd, before some vintage Bowen magic saw the former Cowboys fullback score with teammate Scott Prince nailing a sideline conversion.
Three more Aussies tries, including one each to PJ Marsh and Casey McGuire, brought an entertaining first half to an end.
Players took a more relaxed approached during the second half as a number of fundamental errors were overlooked in order to let the game flow.
However, nobody could deny a try to Rosella Park School student Levi Harris, who made his way onto the field to score for the Gladstone Allstars, sparking a comeback for the home side.
Gladstone came to within four points 10 minutes into the second half until the game opened up further.
A try to Gladstone's Shane Gibson took the score to 44-38 before the home team pulled its full squad of 24 players off the bench during the final minutes to defend against a further attacking raid from the Aussies.
Gladstone AllStars coach Chelsea Baker said the hardest part of her role was giving equal game time to all players.
"The funniest part was in the last five minutes where everyone went out onto the field," Baker said.
"They were all eager to get back onto the field and I'm not sure how many people noticed, but we played most of the second half with either 14 or 15 on the field anyway because people were refusing to come off."
Apart from ordering her players to flood the field during the dying minutes, Baker took a laidback approach.
"I wanted it to be the show it was supposed to be, it was there as a crowd pleaser," she said.
"It was never a serious game, clearly, because the referee tackled (Gladstone lock) Murray Bale, which was hilarious."
The Legends of League coincided with the final round of Rockhampton Rugby League fixtures with Gladstone Brothers experiencing mixed results against Yeppoon across three grades.
The Seagulls wrapped up the A-Grade minor premiership with a 38-16 win, Brothers won Under-20s 36-34 but lost reserve grade 18-16.