The New Zealand Schoolboys defeated their Australian counterparts 34-11 on the weekend, a seemingly comfortable score line. However, the score was close for large parts of this contest, and with 25 minutes remaining New Zealand held a slim 17-11 lead.
As we highlighted over the last couple of weeks, New Zealand had some of its best ever schoolboy athletes on show.
We’ve broken this game down and analysed the numbers, and found that even the final scoreline wasn’t misleading – this one wasn’t even close. In fact, it is downright scary for Australian rugby. However, this should be more about celebrating New Zealand’s talent, which any rugby fan should be able to appreciate. This was a performance of raw athleticism; power, speed and agility combined with finesse, skill and flair. The only thing missing was clinical finishing.
The backline had five players crack 100 running metres, and one only played 35 minutes:
- Leicester Faingaanuku – 166 metres on 13 carries, 3 line breaks, 13 defenders beaten, 2 offloads, 1 try
- Quinn Tupaea – 111 metres on 12 carries, 1 line break, 11 defenders beaten, 1 offload, 11 rucks cleared
- Isaiah Punivai – 115 metres on 10 carries, 4 line breaks, 4 line break assists, 7 defenders beaten, 4 offloads, 1 try assist, 1 try.
- Etene Nanai – 185 metres on 14 carries, 1 line break, 1 line break assist, 6 defenders beaten, 2 offloads, 1 try
- Danny Toala – 125 metres on 7 carries, 3 line breaks, 10 defenders beaten, 3 offloads, 1 try assist
The New Zealand backline alone also had 15 turnovers.
Nanai knocked on over the line, Faingaanuku was bundled into touch one metre out and Faingaanuku also knocked the ball on two metres out trying to score. While that is quite a high error rate, a number of these are ‘positive effort’ errors, incurred trying to make a play.
New Zealand’s half combination of Taufa Funaki and Rivez Reihana contributed to another five line breaks, making one each while Reihana assisted on two and Funaki on one.
The only man to have a relatively quiet day at the office was Waisake Naholo’s younger brother Kini Naholo, who still finished with 51 metres on six carries with two offloads and had two defenders beaten.
It was an astounding performance of raw attacking firepower, illustrated by their combined 58 defenders beaten. This was demonstrated in the fifth minute when Faingaanuku took a big shot but maintained his balance to turn the play into a 26m run, beating six defenders on the way. That one play summed up the whole match.
In total, New Zealand made 17 line breaks to Australia’s seven, and beat defenders 78 times to Australia’s 16.
Number eight Devan Flanders picked up the illustrious Jerry Collins Memorial Bronze Boot award for New Zealand’s man of the match with an understated and consistent game, but it must have been a hard task to select.