The classic cliché held firm at Central Rugby Ground in Kaikohe, as the Warriors put on a 40 minute blitz to dominate the NorthTec Adam Blair XIII winning 44 – 16. However it wasn’t all plain sailing as the game was evens at half time, at 16 points all.
In a sun-drenched Kaikohe, a festive atmosphere entertained a healthy crowd as families flocked to Central Park in Kaikohe. It was the NorthTec Adam Blair XIII who had the early flow of the game going out to 10 – nil lead with tries to James Witahira and Caleb Aekins. The Adam Blair XIII dominated their Warriors opposition running at them with vigour and passion. Impressive hooker, James Witahira was able to capitalise on the back of Northland’s physical domination.
However, the Duane Mann coached Warriors team, soon found their second wind, scoring three quick tries. They demonstrated with their superior Rugby League knowledge as they were able to force mistakes on their Northland opposition and then were able to capitalise on this.
The Warriors Academy who are the next tier of contract Warriors players outside their U20s Toyota Cup team, demonstrated how to work as a team and control the game. Even though they were physically smaller than their Northland opposition, they were dominant defensively as they worked together in twos and threes. They were able to capitalise on their control of the ball with slick passing and sheer pace out wide.
The second half was dominated on the score board by the Warriors as they scored 26 unanswered points. However the Adam Blair XIII never conceded and never looked outclassed. Coach Jim Larkin said, “Considering we only had a couple of trainings we did really well. We competed right across the field. One of issues was that after the first half we never found a rhythm. We had a large squad (26) and as such I had to give everyone a run which I think did affect our flow. That’s not to take anything away from the Warriors, they were a well-trained team with some talented individuals, the Warriors don’t give out contracts to just anyone.”
Larkin was quite excited when he talked about the progress that Northland is taking in Rugby League, “You can see that we are developing more and more talented players here, the more league they play the better they get.” He heralded performances by Caleb Aekins from Boys High at Centre, James Witahira at Hooker from Kamo High School, Kane Pomare at Fullback from Dargaville High School and Ranapari Tau at Prop and Brody Tamarua at Loose Forward both from Kaitaia College as having stand- out performances. “All these boys, if given the chance, could play NRL.” He said. If anyone can pick them, Jim Larkin can as he coached Penrith Panthers Elijah Taylor and Sam McKendry in their teens.
Warriors Academy Coach, Kiwi and Warriors legend Duane Man was happy with his teams’ performance, “It was great to be tested as we were. We have been training for a while. I was really worried after the first 20 minutes, your boys came at us with some real intensity.” He heralded the performances of Caleb Aekins and James Witahira as being outstanding.
Rugby League Northland General Manager, Alex Smits, was happy with the outcome, “Our boys did well, I would have liked them to take it all the way but when you play a big squad it can be hard to find combinations, however it’s great to give players in Northland this kind of opportunity. It is a great build up for this week’s NorthTec Adam Blair Finals!’
Adam Blair X111 v Warriors Academy:
Full time score : Adam Blair 16 warriors 42
Half time score: Adam Blair 16 Warriors 16
Point scorers Adam Blair
Trys: (first half)James Witahira x 1,Josiah Atkins x1 and Jayd Kapa Conversions: Jayd Kapa x 2
Point Scorers Warriors
Trys: (first half)Daymon Abbey, Elijah Sufia, Troy Pulupaki Trys:(second half)Elijah Sufia, Dylan Tavita, Jarel Hemahema, Daymon Abbey, Siave Togiou. Conversions: Daymon Abbey x 1, Jarel Hemahema x 1, Dylan Tavita x 3
Players of the day:
Adam Blair – Ranapiri Tau Warriors – Josh Uta