October 23 2023

The 2023 16s and 18s boys and girls national representative fixtures showcased some of the best young rugby league talent throughout the four matches held at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park. Both Aotearoa Whaanui boys and girls teams produced wins over the Auckland invitational sides, while the Clubs v Schools matches saw the boys Clubs and girls Schools teams emerge as winners.


Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Girls v Auckland Invitational Girls

Aotearoa Whaanui 38-0

The Aotearoa Whaanui girls team portrayed much skill and strength in their convincing win over the Auckland Invitational girls side. Scoring for the match was opened by Whaanui winger Prayer Playle who crossed the white line off the back of an expert long ball by halfback Hera Maihi. Maihi was dependable with kicking duties throughout the match, successfully kicking four conversions and one penalty goal. The Whaanui side proved too strong for the Aucklanders going on to score eight unanswered tries, finishing the game as victors 38-0. Centre Te Maia Sweetman finished the match with a double, with her teammates Prayer Playle, Bailey Edwards, Ava-Lea Maxwell Ogilvy, Kayshana Rapana, and captain Mihikorama Kerr all crossing for tries.


Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Boys v Auckland Invitational Boys

Aotearoa Whaanui 20-10

Spine-tingling hakas set the scene for the Auckland v Aotearoaa Whaanui 16s Boys clash at Auckland’s Pulman Park. However, the first forty was one-way traffic for the Aotearoa side.  South Island’s Azaniah Roebeck opened the scoring, followed by consecutive tries to South Island’s Torino Jackson, Waikato’s Fine Fale and Wellington’s Shae TeKauri Taitua. The half-time hooter worked wonders for the Auckland side as they regrouped to find their comeback form. Auckland’s Charleston Te Rore set the scene for the second half, earning the 09’s first points through a barging run up the middle. Consecutive Auckland tries to Peter Faaleaga, and Steven Moala followed, but the clock rang full-time, and the comeback was cut short. An impressive second-half Auckland effort wasn’t enough for Whaanui’s first-half dominance, final score 20-10.


New Zealand Resident Clubs Boys v National Secondary Schools Boys

New Zealand Resident Clubs Boys 30-22

This intense clash saw heavy contact and excellent ball play from both 18s boys sides as they battled for the full 70 minutes. The Clubs team came out firing, with Captain Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea scoring first after an opportunity created by a kick from half Maui Winitana-Patelesio. Winitana-Patelesio was also successful for three conversions in the match. The NZ Resident Clubs side continued to dominate the first half, scoring three more tries bringing the score to 20-0 at halftime. The Schools side made a resurgence in the second half after prop forward Malachi Filipo crossed to put their first points on the board. They maintained momentum scoring two more consecutive tries but were ultimately outlasted by the Clubs boys, who went on to win the game 30-22.


New Zealand Resident Clubs Girls v National Secondary Schools Girls

National Secondary Schools Girls 32-28

Fullback Jessica Patea put first points on the board for NZ Clubs, but NZ Schools had the upper hand for most of the first half. Containing the Schools’ middles proved challenging as field position swayed heavily in favour of the Secondary Schools side. Schools led 20-6 at the break through tries to Shafenior Lui, Evelyn Roberts, Danii-Nicole Gray and Josinah Filisi Tauilili. Filisi Tauilili scored a double to kick off the final forty before Schools’ hooker Evelyn Roberts barged over for her second shortly after. NZ Club captain Braxton Sorensen-McGee cleverly found space on the line, injecting momentum into her side as they bridged the gap 32-12. That momentum carried as the return set saw winger Danii Mafoe crash over after a full-field effort from NZ Clubs with the deficit now 16. The Clubs began to find space as their comeback edged closer and closer. Consecutive line breaks saw winger Elenoa Havea barge over, making it a ten-point game with ten to go. More metres down the middle from an inspired Schools side saw it become a four point game with two minutes to go. A powerful kick-off from NZ Schools kept their lead alive as they got the ball back on the return set, but a knock-on soon after gave Clubs one final shot. A last-ditch attempt from Clubs to score a 100m try fell agonisingly short as the full-time hooter rang; NZ Schools held on to victory, 32-28.