rugby.com.au, allblacks.com and James Mortimer 05.Oct.2013
A superb touchline conversion from Kiwi flyhalf Damian McKenzie with just two minutes left has given the New Zealand Schools a nail-biting 17-16 victory over the Australian Schoolboys in the premier trans-Tasman Schoolboys clash in Sydney tonight.
Australia led 16-10 as the clock was running out, thanks to a superb try to Newington centre Taane Milne, but it was replacement backrower Dillon Wihongi who gave McKenzie the chance to snatch it with his try in the 33rd minute.
The game began with a spirited haka from the visitors, after which Australian Schools kicked off and poured on to attack, quickly winning a penalty at the breakdown. St Joseph’s flyhalf Andrew Deegan landed the attempt from just to the right of the posts to put Australia up 3-0 after just two minutes.
New Zealand had a chance to even the scores soon after and flyhalf McKenzie piloted over a long range shot from wide on the right to make it 3-3.
Australia’s Iona College flanker Brad Wilkin’s game ended on ten minutes as he was replaced due to injury by Endeavour Sports High’s Rohboni Warren-Vosayaco.
New Zealand Schools had a chance to edge ahead at the 12 minute mark, but this time McKenzie was unsuccessful from the left.
Moments later New Zealand were ahead. From a lineout ten metres out from Australia’s line McKenzie ran across field before putting inside centre T J Faiane through a half gap to crash over under the posts. McKenzie converted to put New Zealand up 10-3 after 15 minutes.
The composed Deegan brought it back to 10-6 with a well struck penalty from near the left touchline two minutes later. It was 10-9 on 25 minutes after sustained Australian pressure was rewarded with a third penalty to Deegan.
Both teams launched sustained attacks as half time approached, with New Zealand No.8 Akira Ioane and Australian lock Ned Hannigan prominent, but committed defence from either side held firm.
New Zealand had a chance to increase their lead five minutes into the second half but McKenzie’s penalty attempt from out on the left, rebounded off the left upright.
Then against the run of play Australia took the lead with a superbly worked try. Deegan made a break on the half way line before he found Trinity Anglican School Cairns winger Adrian Henley on the left hand touchline.
Henley showed great speed before finding Newington centre Tepai Moeroa on the inside who linked with his school team mate, outside centre Milne, who went over adjacent to the posts. Deegan converted and suddenly Australia were up 16-10 with fifteen minutes gone in the second half.
Moeroa showed extraordinary power to set up another chance minutes later but this time New Zealand scrambled.
Australia were given a chance to take control of the game when the Kiwi’s T J Faiane was yellow carded after 22 minutes for being offside at the ruck, but the home side couldn’t make their numerical advantage count.
It was New Zealand who were given the chance to win it right at the death after Wihongi went over for a try in the corner after some impressive build up and showing ice cool nerves McKenzie knocked over what proved to be the winning conversion from the sideline.