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Halftime Huddle Signals Aussies’ Intent

first_imgBy @JulianTFAMountfort Park, Manurewa, New Zealand“How much do you want it?” came the cry.“How much do you want it?” “How much do…” You get the drift. Certainly the under 18 Mixed players got the drift and message loud and clear from their effervescent and ever-affable coach, Danny Goodwin at the halftime junction of game two in the Under 18’s mixed series.As the players echoed loudly back their response to his mantra, it became something of a clarion call for his and all other Aussie teams here at South Auckland. Perhaps too it was just the tonic to provide the overall contingent that all important second wind on the ever more important second day of the three test series across divisions.By the halfway mark of the 2017 Youth Trans-Tasman tournament following the 18’s boys gripping drop-off encounter, Australia had staved off a very spirited New Zealand in two of the morning’s three matches; dropping only one match, the girls 18’s losing a very tight game against an impressive Kiwi outfit, 3-4.  At the halfway mark of nine matches against the regulation 18 to be played overall across the three divisions, Australia streaked ahead of their Trans-Tasman rivals, seven games to two and with eyes firmly fixed on the Trans-Tasman prize and the magic number 10.With the Mixed and Girls 20’s then also winning their respective matches and series’, all eyes were affixed to the Boy’s 20’s match at day’s end. Looking to keep their series alive, the words of coaches Goodwin (18’s Mixed) and no doubt Dave Nolan and co, certainly had the desired effect.And by the time the sun went down on day two, so too went the Kiwis chances in this overall series, with only the Boy’s 20’s and Girl’s 18’s series’ still alive in terms of deciders tomorrow.The Australian Boy’s 20’s showed the grit and determination all Australian teams before them have shown with their backs against the wall. The difference of their Saturday performance against the Friday instalment was stark. They came to play and smoked their opposition with a clinical display from the outset.With a spring in their step, the Boy’s 20’s went in early with Jake Grech going over off a great Kai Simbolin ball. Then Fiveash went over for the Kiwis out wide quickly followed by Cridland again featuring with a long ball to Damon Moore to stretch the lead to 4-2. Tyla Love threw a great ball in exactly the same area as Cridland moments before to hit Luke Osborne to build out the lead to 5-2.“How much do you want it?”Much. Mills then took off from half and Simbolon crossed inside the touchline to stamp the Aussies’ class and authority on this match. A great try in reply to New Zealand’s Mase Parsons courtesy off a bat back from winger brought the deficit to three.With the rain tumbling down the handling of both teams slipped and seemingly the Kiwis’ prospects in this match. Ashby’s hand-off to Osborne for his second effectively ended the contest and brought the Aussies back from the mire and the spectre of a series defeat.Bouzounis then hit Malcolm Kenny on the right flank taking the score to 8-5. Osborne then picked up his treble off a difficult long pass to close-out the match 9-5 and keep alive their chances on day three.In the Girl’s and Mixed 20’s match the Aussie teams knew they were in for a match.The Girl’s 20’s got the show on the road early with Maddi Crowe crossing out wide straight after New Zealand’s early try. About 10 seconds in after the break, Patricia Hopcroft crossed for the Kiwis in the middle catching the Aussie defence unawares with Samantha White going over out wide to edge them ahead. Tamika Upton who was having another stellar match, threw a brilliant long ball left to Luc Sciglitano to draw ahead 4-2.Then when Crowe darted away into the backfield to pick up Rebecca Mi Mi and Katee Maller crossed the stripe courtesy of another Upton overhead pass, the game was as good as over, with the girls winning the match 6-2 and the series.Captain Shellie Davis said “It has been fabulous over here – our girls are amazing and setting the standards every year and those standards are getting higher and higher, se are all very pleased with the effort and the outcome.”For the Mixed 20’s Harrison Griffin and Chris Elbitar’s doubles were a standout among strong performances from all players, but it was Jack Hughes who was dominant throughout including a desperate and welcome save late in the match.“It was awesome coming away with the win, New Zealand typically came out hard but we got through with our speed and fitness in the end which was awesome,” he said post-match.EARLIER TODAY…First out of the blocks early Saturday was Danny’s boys and girls, led by one of Rockhampton’s and QSST’s finest young products, 15-year-old Aaron Moore. They wanted it bad and it was manifest in several ways; not the least their stirring 11-8 victory to lay the groundwork for the day’s play.Speaking of Aaron, younger sibling of Blake Moore in the Boys’ 20’s he had a day out to remember. Finishing with a treble and causing all manner of headaches and ultimately heartache for the Kiwis, he proved unstoppable throughout. Scheming and scoring and steering his team to the first series victory of this tournament in fine fashion, you couldn’t wipe the smile off his victorious dial.“Playing for your country and among a great group of players, this feels awesome; it is something you dream of as a child,” he said post-match which you could imagine was probably not that long ago considering his tender years.And he had some willing accomplices too.Jack Wright, Elise Wilson Ali Bakhach, Kiara Taylor all crossed the paintwork after some great lead-up work from their middle/link supports, while Rhiannon Podmore scored a brace. One of these the recipient of a great inside ball from Kiara Taylor out wide to close out the match.Following a beautiful, sunny first day, strong winds and blustery conditions was the order of the second day. And with the Under 18’s girl’s loss you could sense the winds of change were swaying across the South-Auckland arena; with the strong wind seemingly in the Kiwis’ sails as they troubled the Aussies in all matches. Certainly the 7-2 games score early on was very misleading such was tight and see-sawing battles between the world’s two leading nations.Star play-maker Kobe Nona set the tone early for the 18’s girls with some deft hands laying on a try to Tiarni Bryce early in the piece.Tries were hard to come by though and the frustration was evident. A knee injury to Nona seemed to stem the momentum of the girls and with some tries at either end it came down to Otago’s McKayler Moore who had the last say with a great try out wide to decide the match in the drop-off.In another drop-off decider, the Boy’s 18’s was a cracking match. Among a host of stars it was James Price who stood tallest scoring and laying on another mid-way through the match that swung the match Australia’s way.Among a flurry of tries from both sides, just 14 seconds in to the second half, Baillie List crossed for his second to extend the lead to two. Antonio Buncunga then went over again taking a 25 metre screamer from Daejarn Asi to edge Australia further ahead.The Kiwis came storming home though to level the scores late through Leaupepe and Wickham, only for Price to again shimmy and shape and swing the game the Aussies’ way delivering Baillie List the clincher winning the match 9-8 and thereby the series.The future of Australia’s playing stocks is certainly looking bright.And clearly they really wanted it.last_img read more