The inaugural U18s New Zealand Club vs Schools kicked off at Mt Smart Stadium in what was an inspired and hotly contested matchup.
Coming out of the gates strongly, initial pressure from the clubs’ side saw captain Sam McIntyre break the deadlock. Clubs were unable to convert to leave the score at 4-0 after six minutes.
A mistake off the kick-off allowed a set on the Clubs’ line and the Schools team did not fail to level. Tome Poona executing a pin point cross field kick for Matua Robinson to leap and score. Poona converted to give the Schools a two point lead.
The Clubs team regained the lead in the 17th minute, this time taking advantage of a Schools’ mistake, number four Daeon Amituanai crashed over the line to make it 8-6. Half Sebastyan Jack again unable to add the extras.
Two minutes later, the Clubs left edge centre bulldozed his way over the line. Salesi Ataata capping off a great set of brilliance by the Clubs side. Jack again unable to convert as the score stayed at 12 points to six.
A barnstorming effort from Elam Payne set up Daeon Amituanai for his second, as the Clubs team further their advantage 18-6.
Schools hit back after receiving two penalties, a right side shift saw Eric Vaafusuaga grab his first of the afternoon to close the gap. Poona kicked wide to leave the score at 18-10 with 10 remaining in the half.
A sneaky kick in behind from hooker Jarney Proctor-Harwood was enough to gift his captain a second try of the half, McIntyre latching on to make it 22-10 for the Clubs outfit.
On the stroke of half time Austin Anderson grabbed his first try from dummy-half, Poona was unable add the conversion as Clubs took a 24-14 lead into the sheds.
Eric Vaafusuaga scored his second try of the afternoon to kick off the second forty, crashing over after a sharp set move by the Schools. Poona was unable to convert as the Clubs lead was reduced back to six,
Daeon Amituanai completed his hat trick, as he crashed over from dummy-half in the 54th minute. Sebstyan Jack converted from the right touchline to take the Clubs to a 30-18 buffer.
A grubber rebounded back into the clutches of Austin Anderson saw the Schools keep the pressure on the Clubs side, with Poona unable to convert as the score remained 30-22 with a quarter left to play.
Trading scores, the Club side hit back when five eight Josiah Karapani crashed over after a brilliant show of footwork. TJ Devery took over the kicking duties for the injured Sebastyan Jack but was unable to convert his first attempt. Clubs go up 34-22 with just over 15 minutes to play.
Clubs held on a late flurry from the Schools side to capture victory in the first-ever U18s Clubs vs Schools clash. Final Score Clubs 34 – Schools 22.