Joe Faleafaga with the match-winning try for the Wellington Samoa Men’s team in their match against the Samoa Sports Club. Photo: Andy McArthur.
- Round-up by Steven White.
There were two matches played in Wellington today. At Kilbirnie Park the Wellington Samoa Senior Men’s side held on at the death to beat the Samoa Sports Club from Auckland 26-25, while at Lyndhurst Park, the Wellington Centurions U18s defeated the Wellington Maori U18s 42-10.
In other games today, Poverty Bay ended Horowhenua-Kapiti’s season with a Heartland Championship 31-17 win at Levin and Whanganui defeated Wairarapa-Bush 36-18 at Masterton. Elsewhere, Ngāti Porou East Coast beat King country 29-11 in the other match involving a Hurricanes region team.
In one other U18s match, Wairarapa-Bush beat Whanganui by default.
The Wellington Lions defend the Ranfurly Shileld and host North Harbour on Sunday and the Hurricanes U16s tournament starts in Napier on Monday.
At Kilbirnie Park, The Aucklanders had a chance to win the match from a scrum penalty and 42-metre penalty kick with the last play of the game, but their kicker and first five George Taina pushed the attempt wide and Wellington Samoa held on to win 26-25.
Wellington opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a try running back a kick and first five Ethan Webster-Nonu offloaded to fullback Campbell Cowie for the try.
Ten minutes later Taina intercepted a loose pass and scampered through to score under the bar to even up the scores 7-7.
Wellington doubled their lead with a try in support of Webster-Nonu to halfback Solomon Uelese. Auckland closed the gap to 14-13 with a pair of penalties, the second after their wing was just bundled into touch in the corner.
Wellington had the better of the remaining 10 minutes of the first half, but failed to break through so went into the turnaround holding their one-point lead.
Wellington counterattacked from their own goalline early in the second spell and play was brought up to the opposing 22. The Samoans maintained possession and stormed into the scoring zone. A short pass by Webster-Nonu sent hooker Dion Lealofi in under the posts. The conversion was missed, but the home team now led 19-13.
The home side turned the ball over from the next kick-off and Auckland went wide to wing Desmond Spooner who crossed in the Evans Bay corner. Taina kicked the conversion, and they were now up 20-19.
Four minutes later, the Aucklanders were in again. From an attacking scrum, the other wing Uta Fal Esene, flew through from close range to score to make it 25-19.
Wellington went close to scoring off an attacking scrum 15 minutes later but were held up. They maintained their pressure and in the 28th they scored the match-winner through centre Joe Faleafaga and converted to the left of the poles by Webster-Nonu.
The next 10 minutes was hotly contested but neither side could break through to score again. It came to the last play but the penalty was missed and the home team held on for the win in their last match of the season.
At Lyndhurst Park, the Centurions U18s beat the Wellington Māori U18s 42-10 in the last match of the season for both teams in cloudy but dry conditions.
The Centurions soared to score five unanswered tries in the second half to win convincingly after the Māori had led 10-7 at half time.
A superior scrum and impact and depth of the bench were the main ingredients for the wide margin of victory.
The Wellington Māori team’s second half troubles started with the opening restart of the half which went dead, and the Centurions packed down an attacking scrum on half way. From this, No 8 Jack Riley made the first of a handful of big breaks with ball in hand which led to starting halfback Jake Lawson darting through to score, to make it 14-10.
Two more tries in quick succession followed, both more or less in the same spot as Lawson’s try. The first of these was scored by captain and openside flanker Tom Devery, and the second by replacement prop Jarred Kuresa, making it 28-10.
The Centurions finished the game off with consecutive tries at the end to right wing Kata Ruaporo off an attacking scrum inside the 22, and the last one on fulltime to replacement halfback Ollie Cuff who picked up a loose ball and ran 50 metres to score.
Earlier, the Centurions had started the game with promise, and first five Sean Carter scored in the righthand corner and converted his own try to put his team up 7-0.
The Māori enjoyed their best period of the game, and replied with two tries. The first was scored in the corner by left wing Boston Thurlow after a similar period of pressure. The second was by dangerous fullback Thompson Tukapua who finished off perhaps the try of the match after the Māori outside backs latched on to a crosskick put through by first five Eden Govind.
The Māori went close to scoring a third try, but were kept out, this following Govind’s tactics of putting boot to ball on a regular basis. The Centurions also missed a chance on half time from a lineout drive and a series of rucks close to the line.
New Zealand Schools matches summary – By Adam Julian.
New Zealand Māori Ngā Mareikura U18: 62 (Kurtis Hana 3, Will Cole 2, Hiraka Waitai-Haenga 2, Hoani Nikora-Wilson, Hone Mathieson, Jimmy Pender tries; Blake Lidgard 2 con, Mathieson 4 con) Northland U19: 0 HT: 24-0
A well-drilled and vibrant Māori outfit dispatched an underwhelming Northland who only arrived in Hamilton the day of the game.
The Māori played their first official fixture in 2016 and beat an even weaker Bay of Plenty opposition 103-0. In 2018 they memorably upset the New Zealand Barbarians 21-20 in Wellington, performing a stirring waiata in the middle of Jerry Collins Stadium afterward. Last year they scared the bejesus out of the New Zealand Schools, foiled 24-27 ending the colossal struggle a nostril hair away from scoring a try that would have sent shutters up top.
Players like Hone Mathieson justify the reason for a Māori team. The head prefect of Te Kuiti High School (Sir Colin Meads alma mater) replaced Westlake Boys’ first-five Blake Lidgard at halftime and showed he belonged with the big boys with an assured and clinical display. These days lads from Te Kuiti struggle to get a look in, but the Iwi selection process is robust and often unearths gems.
Hamilton Boys’ High School wing Kurtis Hana was in damaging form, Will Cole, typically a first-five at Rathkeale College, shined at fullback and hooker Hoani Nikora-Wilson showed the mongrel that helped Southland Boys’ win the National Top Four.
New Zealand Schools: 57 (Oli Mathis 2, Mosese Bason 2, Dylan Pledger, Josh Tengbald, Tayne Harvey, Shaun Kempton tries; Rico Simpson 7 con, pen) New Zealand Barbarian Schools: 22 (Kyan Rangitutia 2, Nathan Salmon tries; Hugh Robinson con) HT: 36-12
The New Zealand Schools’ achieved a record victory over the New Zealand Barbarians in their short rivalry that started in 2015.
Behind an athletic and efficient forward pack, Rico Simpson ran rampant even holding the ball in the air with one hand Nikola Jokić style on occasion. The Sacred Heart first five showed a full array of skills as the Barbarian defense leaked like a sieve succumbing to Simpson’s flair and guile.
New Zealand’s fifth try where Simpson craftly deflected the ball to Oli Mathis and the Hamilton Boys’ openside stormed 60m down the sideline, bamboozling the fullback on his way to the chalk, is hopefully prophetic. In the immediate future, Mathis is bound for the Crusaders and it’s not hard to see why.
Sacred Heart lock Josh Tengbald also scored a try from past halfway with a startling turn of pace.
Mosese Bason out of Feilding High School has a brother and sister playing for Manawatū. The No.8 appears to have the credentials to join his siblings quickly on his display. Rugged hooker Shaun Kempton is a success story out of Selwyn Combined while, and both halfbacks Dylan Pledger (King’s High School, Dunedin) and Charlie Sinton (Tauranga Boys’ College) cleared promptly and weren’t afraid to snipe around the rucks.
The Barbarians’ start was encouraging enough trailing 17-12 after 20 minutes. Centre Cooper Roberts was their most incisive.
Thursday 28 September
NZ Barbarian Under 18 v NZ Māori Under 18 – Midday (St Pauls Collegiate, Hamilton)
Australia Under 18 v NZ Schools – 2pm local time (Viking Park, Canberra)
Monday 2 October
Australia Under 18 v NZ Schools – 11am local time (Viking Park, Canberra)