The Australian Schoolboys were defeated by a tactical masterclass from their New Zealand counterparts 32-8 at Ballymore Stadium.
The late withdrawal of New Zealand captain Peter Umaga-Jensen did little to stem the attacking flow of the visiting team, outscoring the Australians four tries to one.
New Zealand took a note from Samoa’s playbook earlier in the week by testing Australia’s back three with a barrage of threatening kicks.
The tactic worked wonders as the side piled on two tries either side of half time, holding the Australian Schoolboys winless in Trans-Tasman tests since 2012.
“I thought the (New Zealand) boys executed an almost perfect game of rugby,” said former All Black prop Dave Hewett, coach of the New Zealand Schools side.
“The plan that we put in place was followed almost to the letter. We made a couple of mistakes, but those were quickly turned in to positives by our kick chase and by our tackle accuracy, so it’s pretty fair to say I’m very proud of the boys at the moment.
“Our intention was to keep turning the Australian’s around in defence and keep it away from Australia’s fullback [Jayden Ngamanu] so we knew if we did that, and made their big boys work, hopefully we would keep going forward.
New Zealand capitalised on Australian errors collecting and returning the kicking onslaught with brutal physicality in the forwards, forcing Australia to commit multiple defenders to each tackle.
New Zealand captain Tom Umaga-Jensen, the twin brother of injured captain Peter, was thrilled with the performance of his side.
“We studied a bit of the Aussies’ plays, we kind of had a feeling for who were their main players, so at training we really worked to make sure our game plan fit the criteria for what we were going out there to face.
“Putting up those chip and chase kicks in behind was definitely part of our game plan. We studied their back three and we could see some problems they had back there. I think we set out to achieve that, and we completed that great.
“Against Samoa their whole team, when they had the ball in hand, were just dominant. They always got over the advantage line but I think mistakes really got them in the end today. Overall I think they’re a good team, and if only they could limit their mistakes they could have really produced something good.
“Overall I think our forward pack dominated theirs and our backs just played smarter footy,” said Umaga-Jensen.
A number of errors from the Australian Schoolboys collecting and returning the New Zealand bombardment gift-wrapped territory and possession to the visitors in the first half.
New Zealand’s prolonged pressure rewarded them a penalty goal and two converted tries to take a 17-3 halftime lead.
New Zealand began to capitalise on the numbers taken to bring down their runners by offloading, creating mismatches out wide.
Multiple try-saving tackles in the opening minutes held New Zealand at bay before Gisborne Boys High lock Isaia Walker pick and drove through the line for the first converted try.
New Zealand’s dominance in the kicking game continued to cause issues, but the Australian defence was able to win several clutch turnovers to keep in the match.
Another muffed kick return gifted New Zealand a second shot at a penalty kick after the first rebounded off the goal-posts, and flyhalf Wiseguy Faiane corrected his earlier miss.
Australia finally strung together possession midway through the first half as the home forwards punched through the defensive line in midfield. New Zealand were penalised for offside play inside their 22, and Harrison Goddard slotted the penalty to carry Australia within seven points.
New Zealand had the last laugh of the half as Hastings Boys’ High School No.8 Marino Mekeaele Tu’u burst down the blindside on an 80 metre run before basketball passing inside for blindside flanker Dalton Papalii to slide over the chalk.
Trailing 17-3 at halftime, Australia needed to control their discipline to limit New Zealand’s ability to clock up runs on the board.
An early penalty to flyhalf Wiseguy Faiane after a breakdown penalty inside the Australian 22 was not what the doctor ordered for the home side.
Australia responded by putting together their second significant attacking raid of the match, winning a penalty inside the 22 before quick tapping and attacking wide only to lose the ball.
Hooker Asafo Aumua scored arguably the try of the match in a weaving, fending run to dot down for a try that carried New Zealand to 25-3.
New Zealand centre Tom Umaga-Jensen scored another try for the visitors in the 28th minute and a successful conversion extended New Zealand’s lead to 32-3.
Australia fought back hard in the final minute to secure the final points of the match when lock Ryan McCauley scored in the corner; however, an unsuccessful conversion saw New Zealand take away the 32-8 victory.
Bronze boot awards
These awards are for the best player in each team, as voted upon by the opposing coaches.
Alex Fidow – The THP was like a force of nature and was hard to stop every time he had the ball.
Green & Gold honourable mentions to first-five Wiseguy Faiane and hooker Asafo Aumua
Harry Johnson-Holmes – one of the few Aussie forwards who could, on occasion, match the Kiwis physically.
Green & Gold honourable mentions to lock Ryan McCauley and blindside flanker Robert Leota.
Click on Page 2 below for Nic’s report of the earlier game: Australian Barbarians Schools v Samoa.
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