Heartland XV run riot in second half against Defence Force
The New Zealand Heartland XV have taken part in a wonderful spectacle of rugby, surviving a comeback and points scoring spree against New Zealand Defence Force to win 60-34 at Methven Domain in Methven, Canterbury.
The Defence Force, made up of players from the three military services, were ending their run together after beating Northland XV and NZ Police in recent weeks, and turned around a 20-odd point deficit to make it 34-34, and four tries in the last ten minutes to the Heartland XV gave the score line it’s impressive look.
While the Defence Force opened the accounts with a penalty, three quick tries to the Heartland side gave them control, however the military selected outfit scored three of the next four five-pointers to finish the first half hinting at an upset.
The Heartland XV scored first half tries to Mid Canterbury wing Waimotu Craft-Chemis, Horowhenua-Kapiti fullback Michael Tambour, North Otago prop Ralph Darling, East Coast flanker Riki Waitoa and Mid Canterbury number eight Jon Dampney.
Head coach Kurt McQuilkin would have hoped his halftime talk would have helped his Heartland troops, healthily represented across all the teams in the championship, put down the Defence Force’s fight, but they continued to show their clout when a handful of tries made it an even game with roughly quarter of an hour to play.
Wanganui reserve forward Lasa Ulukuta started the final run in the match which saw the Heartland XV side finish impressively, and East Coast continued to have their players add their names to the try sheet when Tau Moeke crossed while Mid Canterbury wing Dwayne Burrows and his opposite Craft-Chemis scored a in flurry which saw the sixty-point barrier reached.
It was a solid effort overall from a team that only assembled last Friday, having a light training run before a busy weekend which saw double sessions on the Saturday and Sunday.
A captain’s run on Monday allowed the team to get familiar, noted that the standard of fitness and overall skill levels were up on recent years.
With a good spread of so many provinces represented, the makeup of the team was indicative of how close the Heartland Championship was this season.
However with mini-combinations throughout the team, notably in the front row, playing axis and midfield, the side clicked into gear more as the contest progressed against a Defence Force team that came out all guns blazing.
Once again veteran Peter Rowe led from the front and set the tone throughout.
The Heartland team will remain together and prepare for their match against a New Zealand Marist selection this Saturday at Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru.
NZ Heartland XV 60 (Craft-Chemis 2, Waitoa, Darling, Dampney, Ulukuta, Moeke, Burrows tries; Priest 2 pen 4 con, Walters 3 con)
NZ Defence Force 34 (Woodmass, Wright, Magele, Edge, Robson tries; Speck 1 pen 3 con)
HT: 31-20 (Heartland XV)