RUGBY UNION: Record crowd in salute to the Maori masters

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Championship 21

Maori All Blacks 51

THE Maori All Blacks romped to an eight-try 51-21 victory against the RFU Championship XV in front of a record crowd of almost 5,000 at Castle Park on Saturday.

The sight of the Haka was as impressive as the rugby produced by the Maori but they were initially made to work hard by a Championship XV, coached by Mike Rayer, which included Doncaster Knights’ duo, full-back Dante Mama and prop Tom Davies. Rotherham’s Ted Stagg also figured as a replacement.

Former Doncaster fly-half Tristan Roberts kicked two early penalties to give the Championship side a 6-0 lead as the tourists struggled with ill discipline early on but they responded with a try by man-of-the-match Declan O’Donnell.

The Championship hit back with 22-year-old Mama diving over after good work by the backs to lead 11-7.

The Maori side quickly regained the initiative, scoring two tries in quick succession to move away from their opponents.

Kurt Barker finished a well-worked move as they regained the lead after 29 minutes, with hooker Hika Elliot diving over from close range three minutes later. Willie Ripia converted both tries.

The Championship XV finished an entertaining first half well, but strong defence denied them a further score and they trailed 21-11.

Roberts narrowed the deficit 21-14 with another penalty two minutes after the restart.

Once again the tourists made a slow start to the half before hitting their stride - Trent Renata running in unopposed after a good break down the right by O’Donnell had set up the full-back’s try,

They extended their lead just before the hour, No 8 Elliot Dixon scoring their fifth try.

They were in again shortly after, replacement Frae Wilson pouncing on a kick through by O’Donnell to score.

Romana Graham kept the scoreboard operator busy, touching down for the tourist’s seventh try, again converted by Ripia, following good work from Wilson.

Jackson Willison scored the Maori’s eighth and final try as they broke the 50-point barrier three minutes from time. The Championship side had the final word, however.

Nottingham’s Rhys Crane first to a bouncing ball after a kick over the top from the last play of the game. Jake Sharp kicked the conversion to complete the scoring.

It was a convincing win for the clinical Maori All Blacks, but an impressive performance from the best the Championship has to offer.

Championship XV coach Rayer was proud of his team... “We faced an outstanding side but I couldn’t have asked for any more off anyone,” he said. “I thought the players were fantastic ambassadors for the Championship.”

Championship XV: Mama (Atkinson); Crane, Streather, Hayter, Bassett; Roberts, Cattle (Baldwin); Irish (Davies), Vickers (Stagg), Paver (Tomaszczyk), Hannay (Green), Rouse, Rowan, Burgess, Piennar. Unsed replacements: Burrows, Sharp.

Maori: Reneta; Baker, Willison, Bateman (Ngatai), O’Donnell; Ripia, Gibson-Park (Wilson); Ellison (May), Elliot (Macdonald), Afeaki (Murray), Hoeata, Graham, Crosswell (Christie), Latimer, Dixon

Unused replacements: Eaton, Wilson, Taylor.

Referee: David Rose. Att: 4,956