The New Zealand Maori Under-18 have edged the New Zealand Barbarian Schools 21-20 at Jerry Collins Stadium, Wellington this afternoon.
Match report and video highlights below.
Down 20-14 with about five minutes remaining the Maori strung together at least a dozen phases, eventually breaching the defence when reserve flanker Taylor Dale (Otago Boys’ High School) muscled over close to the posts.
The conversion by Bailey Gordon (Western Heights High School) reclaimed the lead for a spirited Maori outfit who were worthy victors.
The winning try was very much a metaphor for most of the game. It wasn’t a spectacular moment, instead a showcase of attrition and patience from a superior Maori pack.
Initially excitement levels were high with Maori wing Ruben Love (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) poaching an intercept and dashing 40-metres in the opening minute.
The Maori had a device edge at scrum time, but both teams made a bundle of errors as the spectacle failed to soar to great heights.
Barbarians wing Caleb Cavubati (Scots College) scored out wide to close the deficit to 7-5, but a try to openside Oliver Parkinson (Auckland Grammar School) gave the Maori a 14-5 advantage at halftime.
The Barbarians enjoyed the majority of possession at the start of the second-half and two missed tackles saw openside Noah Perelini (King's College) scamper away for a converted try to make it 14-12.
Barbarians captain Corey Evans (Auckland Grammar School) put his side ahead when he kicked a penalty at the 22, but another handy shot was wayward and ultimately costly.
Substitute props Chris Hemi (St Patrick’s College, Silverstream) and Junior Uelese (Scots College) provided plenty of punch with ball in hand and the latter rumbled over to make it 20-14.
The Maori generally played with more passion and ambition against the strangely cautious Barbarians. Front rowers Jayden Walker (Napier Boys’ High School), Bill Priestley (Gisborne Boys’ High School) and Niko Manaena (Southland Boys’ High School) derserve acclaim for their efforts while No.8 and captain Terell Peita was powerful.
For the Barbarians King’s duo Perelini and centre Lukas Halls were threatening.
The Barbarians next fixture is at the same venue against the Fijian Schools on Monday while the Maori appear again on Friday also against Fiji
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