June International Tours

NZ Maori hit top gear and beat England



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England finished their June tour of Australasia with a 35-28 loss against the New Zealand Maori in Napier on Wednesday.


Wing Hosea Gear scored three of the New Zealand Maori’s four tries. Gear touched down once in the first half, and then twice in the first five minutes of the second half giving the lead the the Maori’s which they never conceded.


England made wholesale changes to the team that beat Australia on the weekend keeping only Chris Ashton in the starting loine up.


England went out to an early 10-0 after a converted try and a penalty.


The NZ Maori however hit back and took the lead from England but just before half time Charlie Hodgson intercepted a pass from Luke McAlister and then set up Chris Ashton for a crucial try before half time.


In the second half the New Zealand Maori team who were celebrating their centenary scored 18 unanswered points to snatch victory from England who failed to play at the same pace they enjoyed in the first half.


The NZ Maori had previously beaten the New Zealand Barbarians and Ireland in a three-match centenary series.


England had huge scrum superiority in the first half but the Maori gradually addressed that through tighthead Ben Afeaki and had enough control, both at set pieces and in the loose, to cling to their lead.


They camped in England’s half for much of the final quarter and replacement flyhalf Willie Ripia kicked penalties in the 71st and 75th minutes to clinch the win.


England, needing a converted try to draw the match, threw everything at the Maori in the last five minutes but the home team’s resolute defense held them out.


“It was an awesome occasion and an awesome game,” Messam said.


“They came at us really hard in those last five minutes and to finish the game like that was really pleasing.


“They came out firing in the first 10 minutes and I thought the boys did well to claw our way back into the match.


“We knew the first 10 minutes of the second half would be crucial and we managed to score two tries in that period to really win the game.”


England attempted to run the ball in the early stages of the match but lacked the pace or skill to make it a failsafe strategy.


They resorted later to a tighter gameplan in which they attempted to dominate set pieces and, through that, both territory and possession.


But they were unable to close down the Maori’s opportunities on the counter-attack and they were heavily punished for turnovers and a lack of control in broken play.


“The Maori came here with a great tradition and we came here to win but I think the better team won on the night,” England captain Chris Robshaw said.


“From turnovers they destroyed us. If you give these guys a bit of open space they’ll kill anyone which they did to us today.”


Final Score New Zealand Maori 35 (17)  England 28 (28) 


New Zealand Maori
Tries – Gear 3, Messam
Pen – McAlister, Ripia
Con – McAlister 3
Drop –

Tries – S Armitage, Care, Ashton
Pen – Hodgson 3
Con – Hodgson 2
Drop –


New Zealand Maori : Robbie Robinson, Sean Maitland, Dwayne Sweeney, Luke McAlister, Hosea Gear, Stephen Brett, Aaron Smith, Liam Messam (captain), Tanerau Latimer, Karl Lowe, Jarrad Hoeata, Hayden Triggs, Ben

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