Be the difference at Four Nations

30 September 2014

If you're a NZ Kiwis player, you never want to be #18.

It means, most likely, you won't get to dress for the game. You'll be watching powerless from the stands, as your brothers bleed for the cause.

But if you're a Kiwis fan, #18 is about as close as you can get to the real action.

We want you to be our #18 during the upcoming Four Nations tournament.

New Zealand Rugby League's national team campaign allows our biggest supporters the chance to make themselves heard in some of the country's top venues - Whangarei (Kiwis v Toa Samoa at Toll Stadium, November 1), Dunedin (Kiwis v England at Forsyth Barr Stadium, November 8) and Wellington (Four Nations final at Westpac Stadium, November 15).

In reality, the Kiwis #18 is one of the hardest roles in the team. That player is expected to give his all at training, knowing he may not take the field, but also aware that he must to be ready to go if one of his team-mates was to fall and need replacing.

And those team-mates love him all the more for that dedication. They're glad it's not them, but they respect the sacrifice #18 makes for them.

They feel exactly the same about the fans, who never quite get to feel what they feel out in the middle.

"That almighty roar from the crowd - that's exactly what you want to hear," reflects Kiwis captain Simon Mannering. "It lets you know you're doing things right and the fans shouldn't underestimate how important they are.

"They're the real backbone of our team.

They're all part of our family too. They make the difference."

In the "Be There, Be #18" campaign, Mannering, utility Thomas Leuluai and coach Stephen Kearney describe their emotions around representing their country and fans.

"The campaign invites fans to be at the games and be the 18th 'man', but the important point to note is that these accounts are totally unscripted," says NZRL commercial manager Sarah Lewis. "The words are totally their own.

"It is a very powerful demonstration of the impact that the fans can have on player and team performance."

You'll start to see these images around town over the next few weeks, leading into the Four Nations tournament, which kicks off with a doubleheader (including NZ v Australia) at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on October 25.

Spots on the official supporters' tour to Brisbane, hosted by Sir Peter Leitch (The Mad Butcher) are still available through the Experience Group, while NZRL's media partners Fairfax Newspapers, and Mai FM and The Rock FM radio stations are offering a variety of ways fans can get closer to the team.

Look out for opportunities to meet your favourite players at community events in each test city - the Kiwis want to meet the people they play for.

Once you're at the games, we'll be doing all we can to enhance your experience through sponsor-driven giveaways.

And don't miss your chance to wear the Kiwis #18 replica merchandise - we'll be helping you inspire your team across the try-line to victory.

Teenage wing bolts into Kiwis squad

30 September 2014

Rookie Penrith wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is among the latest additions to the NZ Kiwis train-on squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament,

Four Panthers and five Sydney Roosters players have been named to the wider group, after their teams were eliminated from the NRL playoffs over the weekend.

Watene-Zelezniak (19) is the great grandson of former Kiwis captain Steve Watene (Kiwi #216) and made his NRL debut against Canberra Raiders in April, scoring two tries. He finished the season with seven tries in 10 first-grade appearances.

Born in Ngaruawahia, he moved to Sydney at a young age and represented New South Wales U18s, but faced with a decision between Australian Schoolboys and Junior Kiwis last year, he chose the latter and declared his allegiance to his country of birth.

Watene-Zelezniak joins Penrith team-mates Sam McKendry, Lewis Brown and Dean Whare in Kiwis contention.

Roosters Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Moa and Isaac Liu bring the squad to 37, with several more due to line up for South Sydney Rabbitohs or Canterbury Bulldogs in Sunday's NRL grand final.

The squad, so far, is:

Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kenny Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Fa'amanu Brown (Cronulla Sharks), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles) David Fusitu'a (Vodafone Warriors), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Ngani Laumape (Vodafone Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Ben Matulino (Vodafone Warriors), Matt McIlwrick (Canberra Raiders), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)

The Kiwis open their Four Nations campaign against Australia in Brisbane on October 25, followed by fixtures against Toa Samoa (Whangarei, November 1) and England (Dunedin, November 8). The tournament final is scheduled for Wellington on November 15.

Meanwhile, five more players have been named to the Junior Kiwis train-on squad to prepare for their clash with the Junior Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on October 18.

Fabien Goodall, Zach Docker-Clay and Josh Ailoai of the Parramatta Eels, join Addin Fonua-Blake (St George Illawarra Dragons) and Richie Kennar (Easts Tigers/Storm) in the group, which already features:

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Herman Ese'ese (Canterbury Bulldogs), Dallas Graham (Wests Tigers), Watson Heleta (Wests Tigers), Delouise Hoeter (Wests Tigers), Jahrome Hughes (Gold Coast Titans), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Lamar Liolevave (Wests Tigers), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Sam Manuleleua (South Sydney Roosters), Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers), Taan Milne (Sydney Roosters), Una Mohi (Melbourne Storm), Chance Peni (Newcastle Knights), Pride Pettersen- Robati (Newcastle Knights), Niua Puaka (Melbourne Storm), Tulsa Saumamao (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Joseph Tapine (Newcastle Knights), James Taylor (Newcastle Knights), Renouf To'omaga (Canterbury Bulldogs), Braden Uele (Sydney Roosters)

Both squads will be named next week, after the NRL and NYC Holden Cup finals.

Stringrays barely survive Colts scare

30 September 2014

Counties Manukau needed a try in the dying moments to keep alive their hopes of defending the 17s crown on Day Two of the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National Youth Tournament in Rotorua.

Locked in a tense battle with the hometown Wai-Coa-Bay Colts, the Stingrays found themselves 26-20 down with less than 10 minutes to play, but managed to pull the result out of the fire with a late try to second row Tamatik Ioane-Niko, converted by centre Henry Pei.

The rivals were even 10-10 at halftime and Counties seemed to have grabbed control after the break, with two converted tries to fullback Ethan Nukanuka and wing Sam Filimoeatu.

The Colts, who were 40-0 winners over the South Island on opening day, struck back with three unanswered tries. When Nikora Rangi grabbed his second of the game 10 minutes from the end, Wai-Coa-Bay suddenly had their noses ahead and an upset was in the wind.

But they were unable to hold off the determined South Aucklanders and must now face a stern test from Wellington Orcas, if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

Ioane-Niko was duly named player of the match for his game-winning heroics.

Akarana Falcons and Auckland Invitation have separated themselves from their rivals in the other 17s pool.

The Falcons put 50 points on their Northland opponents, with Austin Masiutama and Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie crossing for two tries each, while Chol Chol had a hat-trick for Auckland in their 30-4 win over Central Vipers.

Akarana are also unbeaten in their 15s title defence, but were unconvincing for the second day in succession, as they edged Wellington 18-10.

The champions trailed 10-4 at the break and needed a staunch defensive effort over the second half to escape defeat.

Counties are two-from-two in the other pool, after defeating Central Vipers 26-16.

In a nailbiting 15s finish, Joseph Taipari's successful attempt at goal in the final minute steered South Island Scorpions home 12-10 over Northern Swords in a contest that was locked 6-6 at halftime.



Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Tuesday, September 30


Auckland Invitation 30 (Chol Chol 3, Fa'atapu Lisati, Delaney Chaney-Puata & Bailey Payne tries; Lisati 2 & Bostyn Hakaraia goals) Mid Central Vipers 4 (Robbie McFarlane try): HT: 10-4
Player of the match - Hardi Pomate (Auckland)

Akarana Falcons 50 (Austin Masiutama 2, Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie 2, Dean Kouka-Smith, Zaylin Inu, Kahil Johnson, Sitiu Tupounuia & Don Broughton tries; Johnson 7 goals) Northern Swords 4 (Tamati Leach try): HT: 16-4
Player of the match - Luke Tipene (Akarana)

Counties Manukau Stingrays 28 (Kristian Petty 2, Ethan Nukanuka, Sam Fiilimoetau & Tamati Ioane-Niko tries; Henry Pei 4 goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 26 (Wally Tipene 2, Nikora Rangi 2 & Shadzz Hapi-Wise tries; Norgan Harper 2 & Reuben Taylor goals); HT: 10-10
Player of the match - Ioane-Niko

Wellington Orcas 40 (Enoch Tautolo 2, Tyrone Tihore, Tarquinn Alatipi, Tristan Davis, Solon Patelesio & Logan Saumolia tries; Luke Cummings 6 goals) South Island Scorpions 6 (Rory Ferguson try; Logan Woodham goal); HT: 16-6
Player of the match - Saumolia



Auckland Invitation 22 (Kenshin Tsutsui, Blade Kamuwhemu, Antonio Nelu & James Courtnay tries; Bailey Poto 3 goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 14 (Tautau Kapea, John Friis & Taelem McGregor tries; Hopa Haika goal); HT: 18-6
Player of the match - Starford Toa (Auckland)

Counties Manukau Stingrays 26 (Steven Marsters, Semisi Kioa, Dakota Edmonds-Taimani, Joshua Uta & Jayden Thompson tries; Etene Nanai-Seturo 2 & Kiani Marshall goals) Central Vipers 16 (Wipere Takitimu, Corey Robertson & Joey Lose tries; Jahlon Governor 2 goals); HT: 10-4
Player of the match - Marsters

Akarana Falcons 18 (Mikey Williams, Daymon Abbey & Hayes Okesene tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita 3 goals) Wellington Orcas 10 (Te Aorere Wanoa & Gerard Akavi-Ahnau tries; Dante Laulu goal); HT: 4-10
Player of the match - Williams

South Island Scorpions 12 (Dallas Onosai & Seth Tauamiiti tries; Joseph Taipari 2 goals) Northland Swords 10 (Te Kahi Nathan & Bradley Laniganh tries; Nikau Graham goal): HT: 6-6
Player of the match - Leicester Faingaanuku (South Island)

Visitors throw down gauntlet for 18s

29 September 2014

Two second-half tries to centre Jack Williams have guided Taurahere Kiwis to a hard-fought 20-18 win over the NZ 18s in their first encounter at Rotorua's Puketahero Park.

Held in conjunction with the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National Youth Tournament, the inaugural "test" brought together the best of New Zealand's home-based talent against on offshore Kiwi selection.

And the locals opened far the stronger running out to an 18-4 advantage midway through the first half, though tries to Connor Purcell, hooker Tyler Mohi and centre Logan Yates.

But when second row Kalani Going scored right on halftime, converted by fullback Jamayne Isako, the momentum had turned the Taurahere's way, even though they still trailed 18-10.

The second half was virtually one-way traffic, with the NZ side unable to crack their opponents' defence and eventually finishing a man short, after they ran out of replacements.

Williams had both tries after the break, slicing through to tie the scores off a beautifully timed pass from five-eighth Paora Kemp, later named player of the game. Isako kicked the winning conversion.

Meanwhile, titleholders Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays safely negotiated the opening rounds of the youth tournament.

Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard scored a pair of tries for the Falcons 15s in their 24-10 win over Northern Swords in the first fixture of the day, drawing away down the stretch, after leading just 6-4 at halftime.

Meanwhile, in the 17s competition, Counties Manukau also took some time to overcome their challengers, Wellington Orcas. The score was locked 10-10 at the break, with the Stingrays emerging 28-20 winners and Ethan Nukanukua scoring two tries.

Auckland Invitation were the most convincing winners of the day, overrunning Northern Swords 68-12 in the older division.



Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Monday, September 29


Counties Manukau Stingrays 28 (Ethan Nukanuka 2, Henry Pei, Lawrence Leaupepe, Kristian Petty & Kenese Kenese tries; Pei & Antonio Adams goals) Wellington Orcas 20 (Tristan Davis, Tarquinn Alatipi, Mose Skipworth & Jordan Siamani tries; Desmond Faafoa 2 goals); HT: 10-10

Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 40 (Isaak Pderson 2, Tony Matautia, Shaydzz Hapi-Wise, Anaru Haika, Caleb McLean, Donovan Briggs, Kruzzyn Harniman & D'Layni Perham tries; Morgan Harper 2 goals) South Island Scorpions 0; HT: 24-0

Auckland Invitation 68 (Chol Chol 3, Delany Chaney-Puata 3, Rylie Williams 2, Lewis Soosemea, Billy Valu, Viliami Otufai & Letuia Eliu tries; Fa'atupu Lisati 5 & Bostyn Hakaria 5 goals) Northern Swords 12 (Duncan McIvor & Haane Rudolph tries; IcIvor 2 goals); HT: 28-6

Akarana Falcons 32 (Dean Kouka-Smith 2, Zaylin Inu, Josh Farrant, Shane Hannam & Sitili Tupounuia tries; Kouka-Smith 2 & Dan Broughton 2 goals) Central Vipers 20 (Jackson Ferris 2 & Enele Fidow tries; Te Oranga Hina 4 goals): HT: 16-2



Akarana Falcons 24 (Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard 2, Moses Faeamani & Jordan Crichton tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita 4 goals) Northern Swords 10 (Takakino Makara & Phoenix Henare-Clark tries; Nikau Graham goal): HT: 6-4

Wellington Orcas 36 (Broadus Melvin 2, Tai Neli, Desmond Motafai, Gerard Akaui-Ahnau, Montell Leafa & Lumafale Lualua tries; Zane Edwards 4 goals) South Island Scorpions 14 (Dallas Onosai, Joseph Taipari & Leicester Faingaanuku tries; Taipari goal): HT: 12-10

Counties Manukau Stingrays 20 (Etene Nanai-Seturo, Semisi Kioa, Joshua Uta & Samiuela Lauhingoa tries; Nanai-Seturo & Regan Wilde goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 16 (John Friis, Shimano Wilson & Sheldon Rogers tries; Hopa Haika 2 goals); HT: 10-10

Central Vipers 24 (Wipere Takitimu, Zion Towers, Joey Raukana, Hitaua Butler & Johnathon Fidow tries; Raukana & Jaylon Governor goals) Auckland Invitation 20 (Nathaniel Law, Glen Green, Xavier Tutaki & Sione Lepa Toa tries; Bailey Poto goal); HT: 12-10



Taurahere 18s 20 (Jack Williams 2, Kalani Going & Sioni Afemui tries; Jamayne Isako 2 goals) NZ 18s 18 (Logan Yates, Tyler Mohi & Connor Purcell tries; Zion Ioka 3 goals): HT: 10-18

NZ: 1-Fuaimamao Uta, 2-Ken Tofilau, 3-Logan Yates, 4-Christian Mika, 5-Tiann Wilkins, 6-Erin Clark, 7-Zion Ioka, 8-Joseph Apikotoa, 9-Tyler Mohi, 10-Jamel Hunt, 11-Fabien Puletua-Kiri, 12-Reuben Porter, 13-Joseph Price, 14-Dre Melvin, 15-Mattais Heimuli, 16-Nick Lui-Toso, 17-Connor Purcell, 18-Eddie Wulf

Taurahere: 1-Jamayne Isako, 2-Chevy Ellis, 3-Sifa Talikai, 4-Jack Williams, 5-Johnathan Taufaga, 6-Paora Kemp, 7-Nathni Vi, 8-Marcel Owen, 9-Harry Bardsell, 10-James Fisher-Harris, 11-Haimona Hiroit, 12-Kalani Going, 13-Faitatoa Faitatoa, 14-Sioni Afemui, 15-Poasa Fa'amausili, 16-Daniel Lillicott, 17-Moses McGreal, 18-Harlin Collins

Referee - Kena Waikai        Touch - N Barker Pringle & Henare Chadwick

Stallions snatch win to end season

28 September 2014

Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions begin their off-season two weeks early and have something to celebrate, with wing Mounga Molisi's late try sealing a hard-fought 24-18 result over Central Vipers at Rotorua's Puketawhero Park.

The loss - along with Akarana's subsequent win in Whangarei - dashed the Vipers' faint hopes of reaching the Pirtek NZRL National Premiership final, but they only had themselves to blame.

With the scores tied at 18-18 late in the contest, the visitors had a couple of chances to edge ahead, turning down two kickable penalties and squandering their attempts to get across the line.

When their opportunity arose, Wai-Coa-Bay capitalised a little better. Halfback Hayden Karena missed a penalty attempt that would have put them ahead, but from the restart, they spread the ball wide, where Molisi spun out of two tackles to score his second try near the corner.

Karena's conversion from out wide put the icing on the cake.

The Stallions grabbed the early initiative, running in three converted tries - including a spectacular length-of-the field effort from Molisi - before their opponents could respond.

But two converted tries and Aaron Whitikia's 45-metre penalty right on halfftime seemed to have swung momentum back the Vipers' way. When centre Che Barlow dotted down to draw even midway through the second half, the game was set for its tense finish.

Wai-Coa-Bay have the final-round bye in a fortnight, so they finish the season with a 3-3 record, defeating Wellington Orcas, Northland Swords and now the Vipers along the way.

Central (2-3) face defending champions Akarana in their final outing.

Meanwhile, the Falcons went a long way towards grabbing a spot in the final, with an 80-10 romp over the hapless Swords further north.

Ahead by only 12 points at halftime, the titleholders piled on the points at better than even time over the final 40 minutes to greatly improve their points-difference situation in the event of a three-way countback.

The Falcons ran in 14 tries, with Taylor Daniels, playing in the centres, grabbing three and fullback Simon Ieremia slotting nine goals.

Akarana, Counties Manukau and Canterbury are all 4-1 with one round left, but the Bulls now have a huge task to head off their rivals. They also have the Swords left on their schedule, but are 92 points behind the Falcons in the race for second placing.



Sunday, September 28

Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 24 (Mounga Molisi 2, Raureti Grace & Marin Haggie tries; Hayden Karena 4 goals) Central Vipers 18 (Aaron Whitikia, Jo Ratu & Che Barlow tries; Whitkia 3 goals); HT: 18-14

Stallions: 1-Caleb Heke, 2-Isaac Robinson, 3-John Koko, 4-Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano, 5-Mounga Molisi, 6-Johnson Peri, 7-Hayden Karena, 10-Mosese Mafi, 9-Raureti Grace, 8-Lionel Skipworth, 11-Marrin Haggie, 12- Hone Love-Henry, 13- Terry Kopua, 14-Daley Rata-Makene, 15-Riki Collier, 17-Shaquille Jackman, 16-Tupara Tupara

Vipers: 1-Aaron Whitikia, 2-Jo Ratu, 3-Josh Kerr, 4-Che Barlow, 5-Tyson Young,
7-Cruze Rauner, 6-Dylan Hall, 8-Sione Sifa, 9-Travell Ngatoko, 10-Kele Kose, 11-Jarrod Morfett, 12-Wiremu McSeveny, 13-Ale Feaunati, 14-Colin Hokianga, 15-Richard Gillies, 16-Haze Reweti, 17-Gordon Karaitiana

Referee - Jamal Thompson  Touch - Puia Williams & Henare Chadwick


Toll Stadium, Whangarei

Akarana Falcoms 80 Northern Swords 10; HT: 22-10

Swords: 1-Hori Tuhoro, 2-Rikki Tarau, 3-Israel Tahere, 4-Ross McFarlane,
5-Tumoana Halkyard, 6-Moses Cooper, 7-Dean Schreurs, 8-Andre Lennox, 9-Joel Freeman, 10-Michael Salase, 11-Patrick Tane, 12-Jordan Hool, 13-Kelsin Harding,
14-Sharif Mangu, 15-Manu Tuhoro, 16-Israel Tahere, 17-Alex Salase

Falcons: 1-Mao Uta, 2-Saula Solomona, 3-Semisi Fotu, 4-Willie Peace, 5-Jeremiah Faaumuumu, 6-Sam Cook, 7-Cody Walker, 8-Kaleni Fraser, 9-Marcus Fraser, 10-Soape Kavaliku, 11-Malakai Houma, 12-Taylor Daniels, 13-Tulson Caird, 14-Semisi Mau,
15-Karl Simeti, 16-Lila Vaivai, 17-Trent Shaumkel

Referee - Lance Bullen        Touch - Tane Kaiwai & Grant Wharehuka