The South’s beaten the North 38-35 in an entertaining inter-island rugby match in Wellington.
oung Crusaders outside back Will Jordan has scored a try in the 85th minute of the match to snatch the win for Te Waipounamu, after Te Ika-a-Māui had looked on course for victory.
The game featured seven lead changes, with the North coming back from 31-21 down in the second-half to hold a 35-31 advantage until the final moments.
The only concern for All Blacks coach Ian Foster, before he names his squad on Sunday morning, was seeing South centre Braydon Ennor leave the field in the 13th minute with what appeared to be a right knee injury.
Young Blues winger Caleb Clarke got the North off to a bright start, breaking 50 metres down field from the opening kick-off . A couple of minutes later they scored the game’s opening try.
Rieko Ioane dotted down to the right of the uprights after collecting a clever grubber from Beauden Barrett when the North were playing under advantage. Damian McKenzie converted the try to put the North up 7-0.
The South had to wait until the fifth minute to get their hands on the ball but quickly made the most of it, with Chiefs prop Nepo Laulala crashing over to the left of the posts after Brad Weber had been stopped just a metre out from the line. Jordie Barrett added the extras to level the game at 7-7.
Barrett then kicked a penalty in the 12th minute to give the South their first lead of the match, 10-7.
The North hit back midway through the first-half, again after a break from Clarke. He linked up with Rieko Ioane, who in turn found McKenzie, who scored to the left of the uprights. He converted his try to give the North a 14-10 lead.
Moments later the game had its first major talking point when the South had a try overturned.
Codie Taylor looked to have scored from a well-worked midfield maul in the 23rd minute. The try was awarded by referee Paul Williams, who suddenly decided to call in the television match official as Barrett was lining up the conversion. Williams then ruled the South obstructed the North defenders and the try was ruled out.
The South finally got their reward in the 31st minute when Jordie Barrett overpowered Sevu Reece in the left corner to score. He converted his own try from the sideline to put the South 17-14 in front.
They managed to hold on to the lead into halftime after Sam Whitelock stole a North line-out inside the South 22 in the final moments of the first 40.
Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith replaced TJ Perenara at halftime and he made an almost immediate impact, scoring in the 46th minute after Blues number eight Hoskins Sotutu made a break down the right wing and offloaded to McKenzie who then found Smith. McKenzie converted to put the North back in front, 21-17.
The South managed to repel a couple of attacking raids from the North and then scored twice in five minutes to take a 10 point lead, the biggest of the match.
The first was opportunistic, with Jordan the benefactor. Jordan picked up a loose ball on halfway and ran 50 metres untouched to put his side back in front. Barrett added the extras to put the South 24-21 in front after 58 minutes.
Four minutes later replacement prop Tyrel Lomax went through a hole five metres out from the line to score between the posts. Barrett converted the try to give the South a 31-21 lead.
The North then hit back with two tries of their own.
Rieko Ioane scored his second in the 67th minute, again after a break from Clarke, with McKenzie adding the extras to cut the deficit to three.
Replacement hooker Ash Dixon was then awarded a contentious try five minutes later. Dixon crashed over under the posts and referee Williams decided he grounded the ball, despite replays suggesting otherwise. McKenzie converted the try to put the North in front 35-31.
The South set up camp in the North 22 for the remainder of the match and it took an acrobatic catch from Jordan in the fifth minute of added to break through and win the match for Te Waipounamu.
SOURCE – RADIO NZ