The NZ Barbarians Schools had an historic first encounter with NZ Schoolsand, in what proved to be a dramatic climax to the clash, lost 18-20 in the final minute, thus incurring their first loss in four seasons since inception in 2012.
In a very physical affair, it was only a late, contentious, try to No 10 Josh McKay that gave NZ Schools the win over their supposedly second tier counterparts at Palmerston North BHS.
A try to NZ Schools wing TJ Vaega gave his side a 5-3 lead at halftime, but the Barbarians made them work even harder in the second stanza with two tries to hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and wing Freedom Vaha’akolo.
Several of the Barbarians players were called into the NZ Schools due to injury, either for this match or the subsequent three-match tour of Australia.
Three front-rowers returned from the 2014 NZ Barbarians Schools: props Antonio Ripata and Sione Asi and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho.
Fullback Stephen Perofeta of Wanganui Collegiate had already played in the Heartland Championship for Wanganui.
First five Tiaan Falcon is the son of former Magpies No 8 Gordon Falcon, midfielder James Little is the nephew of Barbarian Walter Little, lock Isitolo Maka is the nephew of the former All Black of the same name, and fellow second-rower Jacob Pierce is the son of Barbarian Scott Pierce.
The following is a first-hand account from President Bryan ‘Beegee’ Williams of his impressions of the match and the team:
“I must say it was a special 24 hours for me. The culture built up by the management team was exceptional and I have been around many teams. Darren Larsen (Lardy) has done his homework on Maoritanga. Last night’s jersey presentation was very emotional and I was privileged to be part of it. Garry Chronican (NZSSRU chairman) was also there as were a number of parents. Today the boys played with huge spirit and led with only three minutes to go. We were in the attacking zone and were awarded a penalty advantage. The boys played on as they were on top. The ref apparently called ‘advantage over’, the ball popped out the side and they went 70 metres to score. Unbelievable! When I left to come back to Auckland, the boys gathered and did a hugely powerful haka for me. It brought tears to my eyes. We are here to stay in this space. They embraced the true Barbarian spirit.”
September 19, Palmerston North BHS
NZ Schools 20 (TJ Vaega, Joshua Buchan, Joshua McKay tries; Wiseguy Faiane con, pen)
NZ Barbarians Schools 18 (Samasoni Taukei’aho, Freedom Vaha’akolo tries; Thomas Stewart con, pen, Tiaan Falcon pen) Halftime: 5-3 NZ Schools
2015 NZ Barbarians Schools squad:
Sam Toa (Hamilton BHS)
Stephen Perofeta (Wanganui Collegiate)
Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u (Hastings BHS)
Jona Nareki (Feilding HS)
Freedom Vaha’akolo (Auckland Grammar)
James Little (Takapuna Grammar)
Raymond Nu’u (St Andrew’s) *
Bailyn Sullivan (King’s) *
Tiaan Falcon (Lindisfarne)
Ciarahn Matoe (King’s)
Thomas Stewart (Feilding HS)
Melino Fineanganofo (Auckland Grammar) #
Joshua Brown (St Pat’s Silverstream)
Thomas Christie (Shirley BHS, vc) +
Brayden Iose (Palmerston North BHS)
Ajay Mua (King’s)
Isitolo Maka (Sacred Heart)
Jacob Pierce (Rosmini)
Ben Sau (De La Salle)
Sione Asi (Otago BHS)
Ryan Coxon (St Peter’s, Cambridge)
Tim Farrell (Napier BHS)
Antonio Ripata (Auckland Grammar, c)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (St Paul’s Collegiate) +
Flynn Thomas (Southland BHS) +
Coach: Darren Larsen
*Midfielders Bailyn Sullivan and Ray Nu’u were both called into the NZ Schools to cover injury for the game against NZ Barbarians Schools. Centre Hemaua Samisoni of Otago BHS came into the Barbarians as midfield cover.
#Halfback Melino Fineanganofo withdrew due to injury and was replaced by Lewis Gjaltema of Orewa College.
+Thomas Christie, Samisoni Taukei’aho and Flynn Thomas were all called into the NZ Schools side for their tour to Australia.