Much of the hype and anticipation surrounding the North v South match in Wellington on Saturday stemmed from the exciting brand of rugby many were expecting of New Zealand’s best players.
Two teams made up from the best talent across a country that is renowned for its high-tempo, all-action style of play makes for an extremely entertaining game of rugby, and a Damian McKenzie try midway through the first half perfectly embodied why so many were eager to watch this match.
Starting from a breakdown near the halfway mark, the North side spread the ball quickly through the hands down a blindside channel, with TJ Perenara, Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie all getting touches before the ball found Caleb Clarke on the wing.
From there, he burned his Southern opposite Will Jordan down the touchline, forcing the entire South squad onto the back foot defensively.
South fullback Jordie Barrett tried to rush up on the powerful youngster, which forced him to draw and pass on his inside to the supporting Ioane.
The Blues speedster was hauled down quickly from behind in a desperate covering tackle by Brad Weber, but that didn’t stop Ioane from freeing up an arm to feed Perenara on the inside with an offload.
It seemed from there that Perenara would have enough toe to canter his way to the tryline from just outside the 22, yet the Hurricanes co-captain instead decided to step on the inside and suck in the defensive efforts of South wing Will Jordan.
Many onlookers may have thought that was the wrong option to take, but what transpired was a moment of genius, as although Jordan was able to wrap up the livewire halfback, Perenara was still able to fire a sweeping offload into the clutches of McKenzie.
The North fullback had nobody in front of him and had an easy stroll through to the tryline, with Barrett, Leicester Fainga’anuku and Richie Mo’unga all left trailing in his wake.
? North bringing the RAZZLE!
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 5, 2020
The try edged the North into the lead four points in what’s turned out to be a topsy-turvy encounter, with the South heading into the sheds at half-time with a 17-14 advantage.
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