NZ Maori look to maintain discipline

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NZPA     23 Jun 2010     Getty Images

After a late victory over the New Zealand Barbarians, the Maori side pipped Ireland 31-28 in Rotorua last Friday night in a match in which the visitors got a series of penalties in kickable positions.

In the first half alone, first five-eighth Jonathan Sexton landed six shots at goal as the Irish came back from 0-15 down to tie the score at 18-18 by halftime.

Flanker Karl Lowe today identified discipline as a major area of improvement for New Zealand Maori.
"That's what kept the Irish in the game," he said.
"We're going to have to be smarter at the breakdown."

Lowe, usually an openside flanker, will wear the No 6 jersey against England.

He is one of two Hawke's Bay players, along with prop Clint Newland, in the side and he had few doubts about the fixture's personal significance for him.

"It's probably going to be the biggest moment of my career to date," he said.

"England at home, in front of my home crowd -- it's going to be special."

Lowe expected the English to be the toughest of the Maori's three opponents, even though the bulk of England's test side have gone home after the completion of their two-match series against Australia.

Winger Chris Ashton, who scored one of England's two tries in their 21-20 win in the second test in Sydney, is the sole survivor from the 15 who began that match.
Six others who took part in the test, three off them off the reserves bench, are in the 22 to face the Maori -- fullback Delon Armitage, halfback Danny Care and hooker George Chuter in the starting 15; and fullback Ben Foden, halfback Ben Youngs and prop Dan Cole in the reserves.

Lowe said England's traditional strength up front meant the Maori had make sure they got their set pieces right.

"We're going to have to play as an eight at scrum time and we're going to have to control the lineouts," he said.

"We also have to stop their mauling. If they start mauling, it's going to be pretty tough there as well."

Against the Irish, Lowe came off the bench and he finished off the move of the match.

A quick throw-in near the Maori line led to a big break by winger Sean Maitland, before the ball was transferred to the other flank, where Lowe was on hand to sprint to the corner.

Lowe admitted he was having a rest on the halfway line after the Irish kicked the ball deep into Maori territory.

"It was a great effort from the team," he said.
"I was just lucky to be on the wing. Anybody could have scored it."

England coach Martin Johnson, who described tomorrow's match as the tourists' "third test", rated the Maori as "very, very dangerous" opposition.

All their players were comfortable with the ball and they liked to counter-attack, he said.

"If you get it wrong, if you're missing tackles, letting them offload, not getting your numbers right on either side, they will have a go at you," he said.

"It's one of those games where you have to be on red alert for 80 minutes."