Vodafone Warriors players excelled for the New Zealand Residents 18s in Saturday’s clash against Taurahere with 11 of them earning selection in national under-18 teams.
The Residents, dominated by Vodafone Warriors-contracted players, were impressive in beating the opposition side (comprising New Zealand-eligible, Australian-based players) 28-10 at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura.
Five Vodafone Warriors players were later included in the New Zealand 18s to take on the Australian Schoolboys at Trusts Arena in Waitakere on Saturday (September 30).
Those selected are Hayze Perham, Tyler Slade, Soane Hufanga, Paul Turner and Dylan Tavita.
Another six players were picked in a New Zealand 18s Select side to face the Australian Schoolboys in Rotorua tomorrow (September 26) –Sheldon Rogers, Lewis Sio, Javvier Pitovao, Kayal Iro, .
The NZ Residents 18s took to the field with a point to prove on Saturday after the side went down 10-20 in 2014. This time the tables were turned with the home side winning 28-10.
The clash was one that promised plenty of action with players from the Taurahere team, those currently playing in Australia originating from New Zealand, returning to home soil to face off against the NZ Residents. Each player set out to put his best foot forward in hope of earning a spot in the New Zealand 18s team to face the Australian Schoolboys.
Perham, who has also excelled in rugby union for the Rotorua Boys’ High School First XV, was one of the many players who continued their impressive performances at the NZRL Secondary Schools Nationals earlier this month. He scored two tries, one of them a runaway try from an intercept.
Although the halftime score was close at 18-10, the second half saw the NZ Residents 18s extend their lead with Southern zone representatives Seth Tauamiti and Jordan Riki crossing the line.
New Zealand Residents 18s coach Moehewa Armstrong (also Vodafone Warriors development coach) was excited about his side’s effort.
“A lot of our players had come through a tough NYC season with the Vodafone Junior Warriors and weren’t daunted about coming up against the Taurahere side,” he said.
“Taurahere was full of SG Ball and NYC players picked from the other 15 NRL clubs so it was good to see our New Zealand-based boys excelling in their own age group.”
Pitovao, who captained the New Zealand side, was dominant in the number 13 jersey but was quick to credit his team-mates.
“It was great to see some of the new boys on the scene combine well with the senior players in the team,” he said.
“We gelled together and were quite relaxed going into the game which I think worked well for us.
“Our outside backs provided the spark for a lot of our sets which led to tries and points on the board so full credit has to go to them.
“The boys in the middle did their job and the halves had good control of the game and that really helped us get over the line today.”
Taurahere co-captains Sean Mullany and Mawene Hiroti were also impressed with the pace their opposition brought to the game.
“It was a fast game. We had some strong carries from our forwards and some great defensive edges but the errors cost us today,” said Mullany said.
Hiroti said: “It was a great opportunity that the New Zealand Rugby League provided to bring our team over from Australia to have a hit out against the Residents 18s side. Our team really enjoyed it.”
New Zealand Residents 18s 28 (Hayze Perham 2, Mike Williams, Jordan Riki, Seth Tauamiti tries; Dylan Tavita 4 goals).
Taurahere 10 (Kea Pere, Jackson Paulo tries; Mawene Hiroti goal).
Below is the New Zealand 18s team to take on Australian Schoolboys at Trusts Arena, Auckland, on Saturday, September 30:
NEW ZEALAND 18s
Upper Central: Hayze Perham
Akarana: Matt Timoko, Tyler Slade, Soane Hufanga
Northland: Paul Turner
Southern: Jordan Riki
Counties Manukau: Dylan Tavita
St George Illawarra Dragons: Steven Marsters
Gold Coast Titans: Jackson Paulo, Darius Farmer
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Mawene Hiroti
Parramatta Eels: Joseph Taipari, Vallance Harris
Cronulla Sharks: Fine Kula
North Queensland Cowboys: Peter Hola, Sean Mullany
Melbourne Storm: Kelma Tuilagi
Sydney Roosters: Phillip Makatoa
Below is the New Zealand 18s Select team who will take on Australian Schoolboys at Puketawhero Park in Rotorua on Tuesday 26 September.
NEW ZEALAND 18s SELECT
Upper Central: Sheldon Rogers
Akarana: Mikey Williams, Emmanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard, Lewis Sio, Javvier Pitovao, Kayal Iro
Mid Central: Awatere Kiwara, Wesley Veikoso
Counties Manukau: Dredin Sorenson-McGee
Southern: Seth Tauamiti, Daniel Sakisi
Brisbane Broncos: Dre Ngatui-Woe
Manly Sea Eagles: Zaane Weatherall, Mark Tepu-Smith
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Kea Pere
Sydney Roosters: Baylee Bentley-Hape
Canberra Raiders: Ranapiri Baker, Aublix Kaharoa-Tawha