Aussie Schools pipped by Kiwis in Ballymore belter

by Sam Phillips

The Australian Schoolboys' run of outs against New Zealand has stretched to six years despite a second half surge in a rain affected slogfest at Ballymore.

There were ominous signs for the Australians very early when their first scrum, in the third minute, melted under pressure and gave away a penalty against the head.

The lineout was not much better.

Hooker Billy Pollard struggled to throw the ball to the back when required and threw two lineouts away with crooked throws.

But there were better signs in general play.

Australian halves Spencer Jean and Carter Gordon were mighty impressive considering the deluge which carried through the entirety of the match.

Their hands were super clean, kicking mighty accurate and sparked an Australian attack which could throw some effective jabs but proved unable to land a significant blow.Joey Walton flashed some fantastic footwork in the midfield. Photo: Getty ImagesThe pair shined in a first half which was otherwise dour, though flankers Luca Moretti - who is off to the Roosters in the NRL next year - and Luke Reimer also impressed on the defensive side of the football.

New Zealand prop Saula Mau was the sole first half try scorer and it took some sloppy Australian handling and quick thinking from flyhalf Rivez Reihana to grubber the ball 50m and dive on it to break the stalemate which followed.

Unfortunately for the thousands of Australian fans on hand at Ballymore that's where it appeared the hope of a trans-Tasman win were all but nullified.

After going with the Kiwis thanks to the work of their halves, centre Lachlan Ilias and a gut busting back row the visitors put their foot to the floor with 20 to play.

They crossed through prop Tamaiti Williams to open up a 19-0 break but to their credit, the Australians immediately responded with their first five points of the match.New Zealand Schools staved off a late Australian surge. Photo: Getty ImagesReimer was the man to fall over the line at the back of a strong rolling maul and suddenly it was game on.

Reimer put the team on his back again with a driving run deep into New Zealand territory but it was Jeremy Williams who set up a proper grandstand finish with a remarkable effort in which he jumped over the top of the ruck to plant the ball.

Nudgee College star Reesjan Pasitoa missed the conversion but the Australians trailed 19-12 with seven to play.

But Blair Murray - who was the best player on the ground - scored a well deserved try to finish the match in style.

New Zealand were the classier outfit and deserved winners but there were sparks among this Australian side which will be well worth following in the years to come.

It's a shame Moretti is off to rugby league as he is at the top of that list but Reimer, Gordon, Ilias, Pasitoa and Joey Walton all have enormous futures.

The Australian Barbarians dominated Tonga Schools earlier in the day with a 64-5 win.


Australian Schools 12

Tries: Reimer, Williams

Cons: Pasitoa

New Zealand Schools 24

Tries: Mau, Reihana, Williams, Murray

Cons: Reihana 2

Australian Barbarians 64

Tonga Schools 5