Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
An early try to Australian Pat Mata'utia in the opening minutes of the game, followed in quick succession by team mate Nene McDonald certainly did not dispel the NZ Resident 18s hunger for a win.
The youngsters, who only joined each other in camp for the very first time this week, fought hard in wet and windy conditions at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura, with a come-back try by David Fusitu'a (Auckland Pride), which was successfully converted by Honeti Tuha (Counties Manukau). Only a few moments later Counties Manukau player Trent Bishop crossed the line to bring the score to 14 - 10 to Australia at half time.
An injury to star player Viliami Lolohea early in the 2nd half only pushed his team mates to play harder with Esera Esera (Auckland Pride), Trent Bishop and Kurt Robinson (Wellington Orcas) all crossing to score only moments apart.
Even with a last minute try to Australian Jake Trbojevic, when the final whistle blew, the NZ Resident side had proven to strong for the Australian Secondary Schoolboys, nudging them out of a win with a final score of 28 - 26.
Tony Kemp, NZRL Football Manager said,