New Zealand Maori 37-31 New Zealand Barbarians
Maori edge out New Zealand Barbarians
June 12, 2010
New Zealand Maori's Robbie Robinson is tackled by the New Zealand Barbarians' defence, New Zealand Maori vNew Zealand Barbarians, Toll Stadium, Whangarei, New Zealand, June 12, 2010
New Zealand Maori's Robbie Robinson is tackled by the NZ Barbarians © Getty Images

The New Zealand Maori kicked off their centenary season with a hard-fought 37-31 victory over the New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei.

Ahead 20-14 at halftime, the Maori looked to have lost an entertaining match when they conceded a late penalty right out in front, and Baa Baas first five-eighth Colin Slade slotted the kick to give his team a 31-30 lead with just three minutes remaining. But Maori winger Hosea Gear topped off an impressive match, and did his All Blacks chances no harm at all with a superbly taken try in the last minute of play.

Despite struggling at scrum-time, New Zealand Maori raced away to a 17-0 lead, an early Luke McAlister penalty backed up with tries in quick succession to Stephen Brett and captain Liam Messam. Brett's try, just on the 15 minute mark, came after Gear broke clear in the middle and quick ball at the breakdown caught the Barbarians' defence napping.

The second followed 10 minutes later, sparked by a scintillating run from fullback Robbie Robinson and finished off in clinical fashion by Messam.

Tries to No.8 Peter Saili and Otago winger Ben Smith, playing in the unfamiliar position of second five-eighth, kept the Barbarians in the match, with winger Rene Ranger featuring to telling effect in both. New Zealand Maori put themselves under pressure early in the second spell, when they were tardy in clearing the ball from inside their own 22 once too often. They paid the price, as the Barbarians worked the pick-and-go efficiently, and halfback Alby Matthewson made ground with some sniping runs.

Baa Baas prop and former All Black Jamie Mackintosh provided the finish, bulldozing over from close range for the try, and the Barbarians hit the front for the first time at 21-20 ahead when Slade added the extras.

Quick ball from the scrum at the 60-minute mark saw the Maori finally regain some momentum, McAlister stabbing an intelligent kick ahead and Robinson showing real pace to time his run onto the bobbling ball and touch down.

The Barbarians replied eight minutes later after a bullocking run from Highlanders wing Fetu'u Vainikolo finally gave them some field position. The ball went wide from the breakdown, and Slade showed excellent vision to kick ahead, diving full length to regather the ball on the line and score.

The lead swapped hands again five minutes later, when New Zealand Maori showed superb ball skills and excellent support play in an end-to-end move which saw Manawatu lock Hayden Triggs touch down to give his team a 30-28 lead.

A transgression at the breakdown right out in front gifted the Barbarians the three-pointer which looked like deciding the match until Gear timed his run to perfection to steal the win.

New Zealand Maori follow the Barbarians match with clashes against Ireland in Rotorua on June 18 and England in Napier on June 23.

New Zealand Maori 37 (Stephen Brett, Liam Messam, Robbie Robinson, Hayden Triggs, Hosea Gear tries; Luke McAlister 2 pen, 3 con) New Zealand Barbarians 31 (Peter Saiili, Ben Smith, Jamie Mackintosh, Colin Slade tries; Slade 4 con, pen). Halftime: 20-14.


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