Same, same at NZRL Youth Nationals

02 October 2014

Akarana v Counties Manukau ... Falcons v Stingrays. When the dust settles on Rotorua's Puketawhero Park tomorrow, the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National Youth Tournament titles will not have left the Auckland region.

The two national rugby league juggernauts emerged largely unscathed from their semi-finals in both 15s and 17s age groups today, and will again do battle for the major prizes.

Pool play had thoroughly tested the favoured teams at times, hinting that the other zones might spring a surprise in the knockout stages.

But reality kicked home when it counted.

The closest thing to an upset came in the older division, where Wellington led Akarana 18-12 at halftime, but had no answer to Falcons fullback Dean Kouka-Smith, who grabbed four tries in a 42-18 victory.

Defending champions Counties were far more convincing in their 42-0 rout of Auckland Invitation, with Tele Nanae and Lawrence Leaupepe running in two tries apiece.

Perhaps the greatest drama of the day came in the 15s semis, where Akarana were well in control (24-6) over Central Vipers, when their match was abandoned through serious neck injury to a Falcons player.

The result stands and the titleholders will face Counties Manukau, 42-12 winners over Wellington. Steven Marsters and Dakota Edmonds-Taimani had tryscoring doubles for the Stingrays.

In the day's other exciting finish, South Island Scorpions 17s scored their first win of the week, 26-14 over Central Vipers.

The lower North Island team were ahead 14-12 at the break, but could not hold off the strong-finishing southerners, lead by Jordan Pinnock's two tries.

Tomorrow, the NZ 18s will face Taurahere Kiwis in the second of their two "tests", hoping to reverse their 20-18 loss on Monday.

The home team raced out to an 18-4 first-half advantage, but could not sustain their effort against athletes already playing in the New South Wales club programme.



Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Thursday, October 2



Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 22 (Preston Collins, RKelly Paekau, Sheldon Rogers & Waratana Hartley tries; Sheldon Rogers 2 & Hopa Haika goals) South Island Scorpions 16 (Dallas Onosai, Joseph Taipari & Curtis Williams tries; Taipari 2 goals); HT: 16-4

Auckland Invitation 20 (Kenshi Tsutsui, Bailey Poto, Sione Lepa Tola & Miller Leilua tries; Poto 2 goals) Northern Swords 6 (Bradley Lanigan try; Nikau Graham goal): HT: 12-6
Player of the match - Lepa Tola



Akarana Falcons 24 (Mikey Williams 2, Cameron Iopu, Elijah Sufia & Lewis Sio tries; Dylan Tavita 2 goals) Central Vipers 6 (Jaylon Governor try & goal); HT: 18-6 MATCH ABANDONNED
Player of the match - Williams

Counties Manukau 42 (Steven Marsters 2, Dakota Edmonds-Taimani 2, Etenee Nanai-Seturo, Semisi Kioa, Kiani Marshall & Kayleb Milne tries: Nanai-Seturo 5 goals) Wellington Orcas 12 (Desmond Matofai & Gerard Akavi-Ahnau tries; Kienan de la Rembwe 2 goals); HT: 22-6
Player of the match - Joshua Uta (CM)



Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 46 (Wally Tipene 3, Shadzz Hapi-Wise 2, Morgan Harper, Ezkiel Cooper-Tetevano 2, Reuben Taylor & Donavan Briggs tries; Taylor 3, Harper & Caleb McLean goals) Northern Swords 4 (Steele Kake try); HT: 20-4
Man of the match - Taylor

South Island Scorpions 26 (Jordan Pinnock 2, Ben Alexander & Marvin Curry tries; Alexander 4 & Logan Woodham goals) Central Vipers 14 (Feterika fFidow & Al Momoesea tries; Te Organa Hina 3 goals): HT: 12-14
Man of the match - Enele Fidow (Central)


Counties Manukau 42 (Tele Nanae 2, Lawrence Leaupepe 2, Henry Pei, Tamati Ioane-Niko tries; Pei 3 & Leaupepe goals) Auckland Invitation 0; HT: 14-0
Player of the match - Ezra Tuli (CM)

Akarana Falcons 42 (Dean Kouka-Smith 4, Junior Ugapo 2, Zaylin Inu & Amoni Tufui tries; Don Bourghton 5 goals) Wellington Orcas 18 (Tarquinn Alatipi, Tristan Davis & Enoch Tautolo triesl Luke Cummings 3 goals); HT: 12-18
Player of the match - Kouka-Smith


Friday, October 3


Wai-Coa-Bay Colts v Auckland Invitation, Field 5 (5th/6th)

South Island Scorpions v Northern Swords, Field 4 (7th/8th)

Central Vipers v Wellington Orcas, Field 4 (3rd/4th)

Akarana Falcons v Counties Manukau Stingrays, Field 1 (Final)



Wai-Coa-Bay Colts v South Island Scorpions, Field 2 (5th/6th)

Northern Swords v Central Vipers, Field 3 (7th/8th)

Auckland Invitation v Wellington, Field 3 (3rd/4th)

Counties Manukau Stingrays v Akarana Falcons, Field 1 (Final)




Contenders emerge from pool play

01 October 2014

Central Vipers and Wellington Orcas hold the hopes of a nation, as they challenge an Auckland domination at the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National Youth Tournament in Rotorua.

After the third and final day of pool play at Puketawhero Park, Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays have progressed unbeaten to semi-finals in both the 15s and 17s divisions of the event.

The champion Falcons 15s and Stingrays 17s both scored big wins over South Island Scorpions on Day Three. Akarana enjoyed a 34-10 victory over their winless rivals in the younger age group, while Tamai Ioane-Niko crossed four times, as Counties overran the southerners 54-16 in the older competition.

In the 17s, injury-plagued Akarana trailed 20-8 just after halftime against Auckland Invitation, but rattled on three tries to emerge 22-20 winners. Both sides moved on to the semis regardless.

For most, though, the real interest lay in which other zones would emerge from the wild scramble for semi-final spots.

Wellington also progressed to both sets of semifinals, but needed to pull out all stops for a nailbiting 28-26 over home Wai-Coa-Bay in the older grade.

The Colts jumped out to an early 14-0 advantage and still lead 26-12 midway through the second half, but could not hold off a furious Orcas comeback that produced three unanswered tries down the stretch, including a winner after the final hooter.

In the 15s, Wellington cruising past Northern Swords 38-18 in pool play and will now face Counties Manukau in the crossover.

Vipers locked down the fourth 15s vacancy against Akarana with a come-from-behind 19-12 result over Wai-Coa-Bay.

Like their elders, the winless Colts seemed in control at the break, running in four unconverted tries for a 12-6 advantage, but they could not withstand the Vipers' second-half response - two converted tries and a field goal from five-eighth Joey Raukawa.



Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Wednesday, October 1


Wellington Orcas 38 (Brian Smith 2, Rikeli Grey, Navada Koro, Montelle Leafa, Denzel Leota & Gerard Akavi-Ahnau tries; Kienan Delarembwe 4 & Leafa goals) Northern Swords 18 (Nikau Graham 2, Hoani Rogers-Brown & Rewi Windelborn-Clark tries; Graham goal): HT: 18-8
Player of the match - Leafa

Akarana Falcons 34 (Dakota Fa'alelea, Liews Lio, Soane Hufanga, Daymon Abbey, Hayes Okesene & Jolam Tagilima tries; Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerard 3, Cameron Iopu & Fa'alelea goals) South Island Scorpions 10 (Joseph Taipari & Sua Aiiloilo tries; Taipari goal); HT: 12-6
Player of the match - Taipari

Counties Manukau Stingrays 22 (Etene Nanai-Seturo 2, Ray Taumalolo & Alfred Smalley tries; Nanai-Seturo, Regan Wilde & Dakota Edmonds-Taimani goals) Auckland Invitation 0: HT: 6-0
Player of the match - Nanai-Seturo

Central Vipers 19 (Corey Lee Robertson, Hitaua Butler & Joey Lose tries; Maddy Fisher 2 & Jahlon Governor goals; Joe Raukawa field goal) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 12 (Hopa Haika 2, Hayze Perham & Ken Charle Tuimaualuga tries): HT: 6-12
Player of the match - Hitaua Butler (Central)


Wellington Orcas 28 (Obeda Silva, Lance Petaia, Enoch Tautolo, Emani Vaovasa & Jordan Siamani tries; Luke Cummings 3 & Vaovasa goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 26 (Morgan Harper, Wally Tipene, Donavan Briggs, Waikato Forbes & Reuben Taylor tries: Taylor 2 & Harper goals): HT: 6-14
Man of the match - Tarquinn Alatipi (Wellington)

Counties Manukau 54 (Tamati Ioane-Niko 4, Kenese Kenese 2, Giovanni Silbery, Ezra Tuli, Ethan Nukanuka & Vaipouli Anae-Edwards tries; Kirstian Petty 7 goals) South Island Scorpions 16 (Joshua Aileone, Jayzin Cleghorn & Rory Ferguson tries; Logan Woodham 2 goals): HT: 38-10
Man of the match - Kenese

Central Vipers 28 (Tre Te Wake 2, Jhai Atkin, Al Momoesea & Saxton Kennedy tries; Te Oranga Hina 4 goals) Northern Swords 6 (Stele Kake try; Duncan McIvor goal): HT: 10-6
Player of the match - Hina

Akarana Falcons 22 (Zaylin Inu 2, Austin Masiutama, Dean Kouka-Smith, Sitili Tupouniua tries; Don Broughton goal) Auckland Invitation 20 (Falaniko Manu 2, Lewis Soosemea & Bostyn Hakaraia tries; Hakaraia & Fa'atupu Lisati goals): HT: 8-14
Player of the match - Soosemea


Thursday, October 2



Game 1 - South Island Scorpions v Wai-Coa-Bay Colts, Field 1

Game 2 - Northern Swords v Auckland Invitation, Field 2

Game 3 - Akarana Falcons v Central Vipers, Field 5

Game 4 - Wellington Orcas v Counties Manukau Stingrays, Field 4




Game 5 - Wai-Coa-Bay Colts v Northern Swords (5th-8th), Field 3

Game 6 - South Island Scorpions v Central Vipers (5th-8th), Field 4

Game 7 - Counties Manukau Stingrays v Auckland Invitation (semi-final), Field 2

Game 8 - Wellington Orcas v Akarana Falcons (semi-final), Field 3




GATGIM_LogoNZ Rugby League would like to acknowledge and thank our official youth development partners - The Skills Organisation & Competenz ("Got a Trade? Got it Made!") and the Vodafone Warriors - working together to provide a bright future for our young talent, on and off the field.

Be the difference at Four Nations

30 September 2014

If you're a NZ Kiwis player, you never want to be #18.

It means, most likely, you won't get to dress for the game. You'll be watching powerless from the stands, as your brothers bleed for the cause.

But if you're a Kiwis fan, #18 is about as close as you can get to the real action.

We want you to be our #18 during the upcoming Four Nations tournament.

New Zealand Rugby League's national team campaign allows our biggest supporters the chance to make themselves heard in some of the country's top venues - Whangarei (Kiwis v Toa Samoa at Toll Stadium, November 1), Dunedin (Kiwis v England at Forsyth Barr Stadium, November 8) and Wellington (Four Nations final at Westpac Stadium, November 15).

In reality, the Kiwis #18 is one of the hardest roles in the team. That player is expected to give his all at training, knowing he may not take the field, but also aware that he must to be ready to go if one of his team-mates was to fall and need replacing.

And those team-mates love him all the more for that dedication. They're glad it's not them, but they respect the sacrifice #18 makes for them.

They feel exactly the same about the fans, who never quite get to feel what they feel out in the middle.

"That almighty roar from the crowd - that's exactly what you want to hear," reflects Kiwis captain Simon Mannering. "It lets you know you're doing things right and the fans shouldn't underestimate how important they are.

"They're the real backbone of our team.

They're all part of our family too. They make the difference."

In the "Be There, Be #18" campaign, Mannering, utility Thomas Leuluai and coach Stephen Kearney describe their emotions around representing their country and fans.

"The campaign invites fans to be at the games and be the 18th 'man', but the important point to note is that these accounts are totally unscripted," says NZRL commercial manager Sarah Lewis. "The words are totally their own.

"It is a very powerful demonstration of the impact that the fans can have on player and team performance."

You'll start to see these images around town over the next few weeks, leading into the Four Nations tournament, which kicks off with a doubleheader (including NZ v Australia) at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on October 25.

Spots on the official supporters' tour to Brisbane, hosted by Sir Peter Leitch (The Mad Butcher) are still available through the Experience Group, while NZRL's media partners Fairfax Newspapers, and Mai FM and The Rock FM radio stations are offering a variety of ways fans can get closer to the team.

Look out for opportunities to meet your favourite players at community events in each test city - the Kiwis want to meet the people they play for.

Once you're at the games, we'll be doing all we can to enhance your experience through sponsor-driven giveaways.

And don't miss your chance to wear the Kiwis #18 replica merchandise - we'll be helping you inspire your team across the try-line to victory.

Teenage wing bolts into Kiwis squad

30 September 2014

Rookie Penrith wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is among the latest additions to the NZ Kiwis train-on squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament,

Four Panthers and five Sydney Roosters players have been named to the wider group, after their teams were eliminated from the NRL playoffs over the weekend.

Watene-Zelezniak (19) is the great grandson of former Kiwis captain Steve Watene (Kiwi #216) and made his NRL debut against Canberra Raiders in April, scoring two tries. He finished the season with seven tries in 10 first-grade appearances.

Born in Ngaruawahia, he moved to Sydney at a young age and represented New South Wales U18s, but faced with a decision between Australian Schoolboys and Junior Kiwis last year, he chose the latter and declared his allegiance to his country of birth.

Watene-Zelezniak joins Penrith team-mates Sam McKendry, Lewis Brown and Dean Whare in Kiwis contention.

Roosters Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Moa and Isaac Liu bring the squad to 37, with several more due to line up for South Sydney Rabbitohs or Canterbury Bulldogs in Sunday's NRL grand final.

The squad, so far, is:

Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kenny Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Fa'amanu Brown (Cronulla Sharks), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles) David Fusitu'a (Vodafone Warriors), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Ngani Laumape (Vodafone Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Ben Matulino (Vodafone Warriors), Matt McIlwrick (Canberra Raiders), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)

The Kiwis open their Four Nations campaign against Australia in Brisbane on October 25, followed by fixtures against Toa Samoa (Whangarei, November 1) and England (Dunedin, November 8). The tournament final is scheduled for Wellington on November 15.

Meanwhile, five more players have been named to the Junior Kiwis train-on squad to prepare for their clash with the Junior Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on October 18.

Fabien Goodall, Zach Docker-Clay and Josh Ailoai of the Parramatta Eels, join Addin Fonua-Blake (St George Illawarra Dragons) and Richie Kennar (Easts Tigers/Storm) in the group, which already features:

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Herman Ese'ese (Canterbury Bulldogs), Dallas Graham (Wests Tigers), Watson Heleta (Wests Tigers), Delouise Hoeter (Wests Tigers), Jahrome Hughes (Gold Coast Titans), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Lamar Liolevave (Wests Tigers), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Sam Manuleleua (South Sydney Roosters), Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers), Taan Milne (Sydney Roosters), Una Mohi (Melbourne Storm), Chance Peni (Newcastle Knights), Pride Pettersen- Robati (Newcastle Knights), Niua Puaka (Melbourne Storm), Tulsa Saumamao (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Joseph Tapine (Newcastle Knights), James Taylor (Newcastle Knights), Renouf To'omaga (Canterbury Bulldogs), Braden Uele (Sydney Roosters)

Both squads will be named next week, after the NRL and NYC Holden Cup finals.

Stringrays barely survive Colts scare

30 September 2014

Counties Manukau needed a try in the dying moments to keep alive their hopes of defending the 17s crown on Day Two of the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National Youth Tournament in Rotorua.

Locked in a tense battle with the hometown Wai-Coa-Bay Colts, the Stingrays found themselves 26-20 down with less than 10 minutes to play, but managed to pull the result out of the fire with a late try to second row Tamatik Ioane-Niko, converted by centre Henry Pei.

The rivals were even 10-10 at halftime and Counties seemed to have grabbed control after the break, with two converted tries to fullback Ethan Nukanuka and wing Sam Filimoeatu.

The Colts, who were 40-0 winners over the South Island on opening day, struck back with three unanswered tries. When Nikora Rangi grabbed his second of the game 10 minutes from the end, Wai-Coa-Bay suddenly had their noses ahead and an upset was in the wind.

But they were unable to hold off the determined South Aucklanders and must now face a stern test from Wellington Orcas, if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

Ioane-Niko was duly named player of the match for his game-winning heroics.

Akarana Falcons and Auckland Invitation have separated themselves from their rivals in the other 17s pool.

The Falcons put 50 points on their Northland opponents, with Austin Masiutama and Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie crossing for two tries each, while Chol Chol had a hat-trick for Auckland in their 30-4 win over Central Vipers.

Akarana are also unbeaten in their 15s title defence, but were unconvincing for the second day in succession, as they edged Wellington 18-10.

The champions trailed 10-4 at the break and needed a staunch defensive effort over the second half to escape defeat.

Counties are two-from-two in the other pool, after defeating Central Vipers 26-16.

In a nailbiting 15s finish, Joseph Taipari's successful attempt at goal in the final minute steered South Island Scorpions home 12-10 over Northern Swords in a contest that was locked 6-6 at halftime.



Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

Tuesday, September 30


Auckland Invitation 30 (Chol Chol 3, Fa'atapu Lisati, Delaney Chaney-Puata & Bailey Payne tries; Lisati 2 & Bostyn Hakaraia goals) Mid Central Vipers 4 (Robbie McFarlane try): HT: 10-4
Player of the match - Hardi Pomate (Auckland)

Akarana Falcons 50 (Austin Masiutama 2, Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie 2, Dean Kouka-Smith, Zaylin Inu, Kahil Johnson, Sitiu Tupounuia & Don Broughton tries; Johnson 7 goals) Northern Swords 4 (Tamati Leach try): HT: 16-4
Player of the match - Luke Tipene (Akarana)

Counties Manukau Stingrays 28 (Kristian Petty 2, Ethan Nukanuka, Sam Fiilimoetau & Tamati Ioane-Niko tries; Henry Pei 4 goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 26 (Wally Tipene 2, Nikora Rangi 2 & Shadzz Hapi-Wise tries; Norgan Harper 2 & Reuben Taylor goals); HT: 10-10
Player of the match - Ioane-Niko

Wellington Orcas 40 (Enoch Tautolo 2, Tyrone Tihore, Tarquinn Alatipi, Tristan Davis, Solon Patelesio & Logan Saumolia tries; Luke Cummings 6 goals) South Island Scorpions 6 (Rory Ferguson try; Logan Woodham goal); HT: 16-6
Player of the match - Saumolia



Auckland Invitation 22 (Kenshin Tsutsui, Blade Kamuwhemu, Antonio Nelu & James Courtnay tries; Bailey Poto 3 goals) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 14 (Tautau Kapea, John Friis & Taelem McGregor tries; Hopa Haika goal); HT: 18-6
Player of the match - Starford Toa (Auckland)

Counties Manukau Stingrays 26 (Steven Marsters, Semisi Kioa, Dakota Edmonds-Taimani, Joshua Uta & Jayden Thompson tries; Etene Nanai-Seturo 2 & Kiani Marshall goals) Central Vipers 16 (Wipere Takitimu, Corey Robertson & Joey Lose tries; Jahlon Governor 2 goals); HT: 10-4
Player of the match - Marsters

Akarana Falcons 18 (Mikey Williams, Daymon Abbey & Hayes Okesene tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita 3 goals) Wellington Orcas 10 (Te Aorere Wanoa & Gerard Akavi-Ahnau tries; Dante Laulu goal); HT: 4-10
Player of the match - Williams

South Island Scorpions 12 (Dallas Onosai & Seth Tauamiiti tries; Joseph Taipari 2 goals) Northland Swords 10 (Te Kahi Nathan & Bradley Laniganh tries; Nikau Graham goal): HT: 6-6
Player of the match - Leicester Faingaanuku (South Island)



GATGIM_LogoNZ Rugby League would like to acknowledge and thank our official youth development partners - The Skills Organisation & Competenz ("Got a Trade? Got it Made!") and the Vodafone Warriors - working together to provide a bright future for our young talent, on and off the field.