allblacks.com and James Mortimer 02.Oct.2013Seiser Photography
Coach Russell Hilton-Jones made numerous changes after Fiji Schools recorded a 22-20 win in Sydney over the weekend, and a clinical performance resulted in New Zealand Schools putting in a game that will put them in good stead leading into their Saturday match against a full strength Australia team.
Fiji ambushed the New Zealand Schools team with their two point win, with the flying Pacific Island team part of a wider initiative by the International Rugby Board and New Zealand Rugby to grow their rugby via international exposure – extending to school boy teams.
The Fijians defeated a NSW Country selection 74-10 and then scored four tries via Seveci Nakailagi and Rupeni Vakasilimi with Sakiusa Boletawa and Viliame Kikau against New Zealand Schools, giving them the win two point win, their first over a Kiwi Schools selection.
However the New Zealand side put in a display that pleased the crowd, as well as the coach yesterday, with the forwards working well to outmuscle Australia A, with the call to go back to basics put into effect with a solid performance from the set piece.
Hilton-Jones and the team wanted to ensure that everyone stuck to the plan and this was executed against an Australia A team dominated by Queensland and New South Wales players.
While the match against Fiji saw the New Zealand Schools team fall victim to some basic errors, simple plays and completion of their skills via passing on attack and making their tackles saw the score board tick over against Australia A.
Sydney, currently under something of a heatwave as Australia begins its ominous switch to summer, put out blazing conditions as the New Zealand Schools team played a tight 80 minutes, leading 19-0 at halftime before adding 17 points in the second half.
Playmaker Damian McKenzie, a player for the future, scored two tries while kicking three conversions, while Mitchell Karpik, Sam Chongkit, Isaac Te Tamaki, Nathaniel Apa crossed the line.
New Zealand Schools play their final match against Australia Schools at Knox Grammar on Saturday (kick-off 8:00pm NZT).