Rugby Union: North fail to hold advance of New Zealand machine

North Under-21 15 N Zealand Under-21 45
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North Under-21 15 N Zealand Under-21 45

New Zealand Under-21 completed the first half of what could be a Manchester blackwash when they defeated North Under-21 at Sale's Heywood Road ground last night, with an exuberant display of strong running and sure handling, scoring six superb tries in the process.

The North, Under-21 Division Champions for the past four seasons, were not helped by the ineffective goalkicking of James Lofthouse and Stuart Dixon, though that is not where the game was won and lost. The tourists were better organised - especially in defence - possessed greater individual skills and had more pace and flair.

The New Zealand motor was in their pack. Chris Jack and Patrick Coughlan formed an impressive second row, while it often seemed New Zealand had flankers to spare in the contest for the loose ball.

Their first drive earned a try for the prop Michael Wright, which their outside half Scott Leighton converted to add to an earlier penalty, and the Kiwis were in command.

It took the North some while to find their rhythm and, when they did, it was Rob Rawlinson who pierced the New Zealand defence, before popping the scoring pass to Pat Sanderson. But this was the only moment of inspiration for the North in an otherwise barren first half.

Aaron Baigent's try concluded some sparkling midfield work, and a second Leighton penalty took it 18-5 at the break. Salesi Moimoi went in at the corner, before the North condeded a penalty try as Shaun Woof impeded Leighton.

The siege was lifted briefly when Dixon was driven across for the North's second try. But one-way traffic was resumed quickly as Jason Lett and Byron Kelleher touched down in an advance of Alistair Ramus's consolation try for the North.

North Under-21: Tries Sanderson, Dixon, Ramus. New Zealand Under-21: Tries Wright, Baigent, Moimoi, Lett, Kelleher. Penaltry try; Conversions Leighton 3; Penalties Leighton 3.

NORTH UNDER-21: R Hartley (Newcastle); J Bartle (Wakefield), S Woof (Waterloo), S Dixon (Harrogate), P Graham (Waterloo); J Lofthouse (Sale), A Birkby (Wakefield); R Falkner (Harrogate), R Rawlinson (Orrell), M O'Keefe (Waterloo), J Marton, J Rule (both West Hartlepool), G Wappett (Blaydon), P Sanderson (Sale), R Beattie (Newcastle, capt). Replacements: A Ramus (West Hartlepool) for Wappett, 37; D Walder (Durham Univ) for Lofthouse, 67; A Brown (Otley) for Birkby, 67.

NEW ZEALAND UNDER-21: B Sau; A Baigent, J Roberts, J Going, S Moimoi; S Leighton (C Hora, 64), B Kelleher (capt); M Wright, M Breach, M Storey (P Tait, 57), C Jack (M Veale, 44), P Coughlan, H Makiri, J Lett, S Broomhall.

Referee: M Abdala (Argentina).