New Zealand: 34 (Jeriah Mua, Tupou Vaa’i, Etene Nanai, Leicester Faingaanuku, Isaiah Punivai, Lincoln McClutchie tries, Danny Toala 2 con) Australia: 11 (Darcy Breen try; Will Harrison 2 con)
The New Zealand Secondary Schools’ have extended their unbeaten run against Australia to five consecutive years after winning the annual Trans-Tasman test 34-11 in Sydney on Saturday.
The hosts started brightly, forcing New Zealand to repel nine phases. Openside Jeriah Mua won a turnover inside his own 22 and a short time later scored the first try after a powerful burst by wing Leicester Faingaanuku allowed the New Zealand forwards to swing onto attack and finish emphatically.
In the 14th minute Tupou Vaa’i made an emphatic tackle which jolted the ball free from Australia’s grasp. Sixty seconds later another Aussie knock-on resulted in the big Wesley lock crashing over to double the Kiwis lead.
Two busts by centre Isaiah Punivai resulted in no profit for New Zealand, but Australian first-five Will Harrison punished two lapses in discipline by the tourists to make the halftime score 10-6.
Australia ventured into New Zealand territory to start the second-half, but another fumble was seized upon by fullback Etene Nanai who collected a spillage in the midfield and galloped 60-metres.
The rampant Faingaanuku was held up as New Zealand punched regular holes in the Australian defence; however the hosts would soon close the gap to 17-11 when reserve flanker Tom Kibble made a storming charge and prop Darcy Breen touched down out wide.
Down 17-11, Australian optimism further increased when wing Albert Hopoate pulled his finger out and boldly ran 50-metres from his own in goal area.
However Kibble was yellow carded three minutes later for a head high tackle on Faingaanuku and Australia would concede two tries undermanned.
Faingaanuku exacted his revenge by ploughing through close to the posts and Punivai barley dived a metre in supporting a destructive carry by substitute wing Danny Toala.
Punivai created the last try for reserve pivot Lincoln McClutchie after a deft touch realeased the Hastings Boys’ flyer in to the clear.
No.8 Devan Flanders was named winner of the Jerry Collins Bronze Boot award as New Zealand’s player of the test. Locks Vaa’i and Naitoa Ah Kuoi were busy and abrasive and blindside Charles Alaimalo grew in stature after a tentative beginning.
Punivai oozes class and Faingaanuku would never be short of lunch money.
New Zealand won all three matches on tour scoring 137 points and conceding 24, after previously beating Fiji Schools’ (54-7) and Australian Schools’ Barbarians (49-6).
New Zealand Schools’ coach Jason Holland said he was pleased with the way his team continued to attack a strong Australian team.
“I think we wore them down. At halftime we encouraged the team to use the width and it was satisfying to see they backed themselves and it came off in the second half,” said Holland.
Holland agreed with the choice of Flanders as Player of the Match and commended his performance.
“Devan is a workhorse. He does a lot of things people don’t see; his tackle count was huge and he carried well throughout the match,” said Holland.
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