Difficult conditions contribute to hard fought draw


Auckland, New Zealand October 18, 2011 - NZ Resident 16s played the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) rugby league team in a one off game today in front of a good crowd gathered at Massey Park in Papakura.

Unpleasant weather conditions, with heavy squally rain and strong winds, made handling extremely difficult for the teams, especially in the second half when both struggled to complete their sets of six.

While they made good metres up the middle of the park, neither team were able to finish their attacking raids as strong tackles by their opposition regularly resulted in the ball being knocked free or dropped and knocked on.

The NZR scored first with a try to centre Lafu Feagaiga (Counties Manukau Stingrays), which went unconverted on what was a very difficult afternoon for the kickers.

In the Residents next attempt they were held up over the line and the QAS turned this to their advantage kicking a 40 / 20 to take them onto the attack. Their fullback Nathan Wilson (Burleigh) crossed for a try, also unconverted and the scores were level at 4 all.

Eventually, as the rain got heavier and the wind picked up, the NZR were able to take advantage of a penalty and a six again call to put their captain Reubenn Rennie over in the corner for their second try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the score was 8 - 4 to the NZ Resident 16s.

The NZR adopted a policy of kicking to the corners, chasing hard and trying to force the QAS to make errors on their line, and this worked well. Unfortunately a mix up at a resulting NZR scrum saw them lose it before the ball had been passed.

Eventually the QAS were able to attack the NZR line, and despite one runner being pushed back 10 metres, a quick play of the ball and some good back line passes saw their number 9 Jayden Berrell (Runaway Bay) cross for a try. This was converted by Ashley Taylor taking the score to 10 - 8 and there it remained despite the rain stopping briefly and the NZR benefiting from a number of penalties. Dropped ball cost the NZR heavily after they forced a line drop out, however the QAS were guilty of the same and it was 10 - 8 to QAS at half time.

The second half was more of the same, with both teams making breaks only to be run down and losing the ball in the ensuing tackles, and both sets of forwards making good metres, especially the NZR number 14 Kenneth Lafaele (Auckland Pride) who had the crowd in the grandstand cheering.

As scrum after scrum was set and the rain increased the players continued to try their best, with some good offloads and runs from the wingers. Eventually the NZR fullback Tuimoala Lolohea (Auckland Pride) scored but with another missed conversion the score was only 12 - 10 with enough time on the clock for either team to score and close the game out.

In their desperation to score the QAS then gave away a number of penalties at the ruck and were eventually warned by the referee. The NZR continued to force line dropouts but couldn't turn the possession into points and finally the QAS wing Ryan Mitchell (Kingaroy) scored an unconverted try.

With the score at 14 - 12ย  and only minutes on the clock the NZR were once again awarded a penalty, this time in a position where kicker Lafu Feagaia didn't miss and the scores were tied at 14 all and there it remained.

The Queensland Academy of Sport rugby league programme was started in 2000 by Wayne Bennett, then Brisbane Broncos coach, as a way of finding future State of Origin stars. The players come into camp twice a year and Kurt Richards, Brisbane Broncos 20s coach, is their part time coach. The team have been in NZ for ten days, playing two games, one against a NZ Maori 16s team at the ground last weekend and this.

By contrast the NZ Resident 16s team was drawn from five of the NZRL National Competition 15s teams and the National Secondary schools tournament and only came into camp last Friday. Their coach Jeff Whittaker said