The Ganellen Blues Under-20s enjoyed an encouraging shakedown ahead of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa Under-20 tournament with a win over their Chiefs counterparts near Pukekohe.
They beat the Chiefs 26-12 in the friendly, scoring four tries to two in hot conditions at the Bombay Rugby Club, and will now prepare for the Super Rug by Aotearoa Under-20 tournament in Taupo starting on Sunday 11 April.
Head coach Steven Bates was pleased with their first outing and prospects for Taupo.
“I am rapt, I am absolutely rapt. The big positive for me was how we responded. They put a fair bit of pressure on us in the first 25 minutes and we had to defend a lot. We were able to withstand that pressure and reverse it and put the pressure on them.
“Another big positive was our scrum. We have worked hard on it and the scrum was fantastic.
“It was a good platform looking ahead to the tournament. We certainly did not get everything right but we got enough things right to know we are a team that can dig deep, and we will definitely put our best foot forward in Taupo.”
The Chiefs took the early lead after 10 minutes with an unconverted try from a driving maul before Manu Paea levelled the scores out wide.
The Ganellen Blues took the lead after 30 minutes when Allan Craig forced his way over from a driving run off the maul with Jock McKenzie adding the extras, before the Chiefs levelled the scores with an intercept try on halftime.
With a superior scrum, improving lineout work and some aggressive defence, the Ganellen Blues began to take control midway through the second half.
They made a number of telling breaks before diminutive replacement halfback Dayton Iobu darted over by the posts.
Rather than closing the game down, the Ganellen Blues showed their attacking flair five minutes later when winger Joel Cobb went over in the corner after a prolonged attack. McKenzie slotted the extras off the post for the final 26-12 scoreline.
Ganellen Blues 26 (Manu Paea. Allan Craig, Dayton Iobu, Joel Cobb tries; Jock McKenzie 3 conversions) Chiefs 12
CAPTION: Replacement halfback Dayton Iobu stretches out for the try but was bundled into touch.
Credit: Richard Spranger Photography.