NZ Schools beat Australia Schools

NZPA     09 Oct 2005    

Aware the Australian schools' coaching staff would be spying in Sydney, Coventry hid some of his key players -- while another was in hospital -- during the last-minute 13-14 loss to the A side.

However, with a proud unbeaten record over the Australian senior schools side stretching back to 1998 to protect, the best available line-up fronted at Viking Park and extended their winning streak to four consecutive games against their trans-Tasman counterparts.

Michael Coman, who scored off the bench against the A side, started at No.8 while 16-year-old lock Sam Whitelock joined the engine room to form a damaging partnership with fellow second rower Chris Smith.

"Coman was always the best option at No.8 while Chris and Sam took the ball at will off Australia at the lineout -- that kept us in the game," team manager Darryl Leith said.

"Overall it was a very good performance up front, we dominated and got a steady supply of go forward ball."

A new midfield partnership of Tua Sevene and Winston Stanley also wrought havoc, second-five-eighth Sevene scoring a crucial try shortly after halftime to give New Zealand a lead they never relinquished.

Stanley made a remarkable recovery to take the field after spending Tuesday in hospital getting a boil on his leg lanced.

"That's not a bad bounce-back .... hospital on Tuesday and playing a test on Saturday," Leith said.

The teams were locked 12-all at halftime but the New Zealanders made good use of the wind after the break with tries through Sevene and wing Ken Pisi within 10 minutes of the restart building a match-winning buffer.

Australia fought back with a quarter of the match remaining when Lachlan Turner toed ahead a loose ball and won the race to the line before Nathan Sievert bridged the gap to three with the conversion.

However, unlike the Australia A game where New Zealand failed to close down the contest when they hit the front late in the match, the visitors held on.

First five-eighth Trent Renata and replacement loose forward Zarhn Commerer scored for the New Zealanders in the first half, Australian wing Brett Stapleton ensured parity at the break with a double.

Commerer was named as the Golden Boot winner, a team award previously won by Jeff Wilson, Carlos Spencer and Jerry Collins.

The team head home tomorrow after a scheduled game against Tonga on Tuesday was scrapped after the Pacific Islanders pulled out.

New Zealand Schools 22 (Trent Renata, Zarhn Commerer, Tua Sevene, Ken Pisi tries; Trent Renata con) Australian Schools 19 (Brett Stapleton 2, Lachlan Turner tries; Nathan Sievert 2 con).

Halftime 12-12.