Australia Schools lose trans-Tasman battle

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia’s schoolboys have been outclassed by New Zealand, going down 34-11 on Saturday.

Though the home side fought hard, New Zealand held control for much of the match, holding the lead all afternoon in their trans-Tasman match-up, and finishing with six tries to Australia's one.

The Kiwis barged through a hard-working Australian defence and piled the pressure on, until openside flanker Jeriah Mua crossed in what seemed an inevitable score.

Australia were desperate but not quite good enough. Photo: ARU Media/Karen WatsonAustralia captain Will Harrison had the chance to respond three minutes later but couldn’t convert, with New Zealand continuing to hold the edge.

There was a familiar danger near the tryline for Australian fans, as Waisake Naholo’s younger brother threatened after the Kiwis took advantage of a kick-return.

Lock Tupou Vaai extended New Zealand’s lead after a knock-on from Australian winger Tristan Stanghon handed the Kiwis the ball deep in attack.

Australia’s attack looked threatening when they had a chance to show their wares, though were hurt by some of their own decision-making.

Aussie skipper Will Harrison hit back with a penalty, and the home side went into the break trailing by just four points.

Things looked promising for Australia right after half-time, before a loose pas was scooped up by New Zealand fullback Etene Nani, cousin of Tim Nani-Williams, who sprinted away to score just four minutes in.

There was little space for movement for Australia. Photo: ARU Media/Karen WatsonHe went just centimetres short of scoring again, just six minutes later, but was pushed into touch.

Camped in their own territory, the Australians finally managed to turn things around, with a break from flanker Tom Kibble set off an attacking chain that ended with tighthead prop Darcy Breen diving over in the 51st minute.

Kibble’s game hit a low ebb just three minutes later, after a miscalculated tackle earned him a yellow card.

While the Aussies battled to keep the Kiwis out, with impressive defensive efforts from winger Albert Hopoate and Harrison, mountainous winger Faingaanuku made Australia pay, capping off a superb performance.

Replacement fullback Danny Toala had a blistering run in the 63rd minute, before handing off to Isaiah Punivai just on the line for their fifth of the day.

New Zealand took the ball 90 metres for Lincoln McClutchie to score the game-sealer in the 66th minute.


Australia Schools 11

Tries: Breen

Pens: Harrison 2

Yellow cards: Kibble (54)

New Zealand Schools 34

Tries: Mua, Vaai, Nani, Faingaanuku, Punivai, McClutchie

Cons: Toala 2