Orcas put up a whale of a fight
A crowd of more than 2000 saw the Wellington Orcas under-20 side give their New Zealand Warriors counterparts a run for their money at Porirua Park.
Wellington Rugby League had been promoting the Waitangi Day clash for some time, giving local fans the opportunity to witness the Toyota Cup champs square off against the best young talent in the region.
WRL general manager Jason Hemson said having the Warriors host open days, training sessions and matches in Porirua and the Hutt Valley was a way to strengthen the sport here.
Of particular interest was Porirua Vikings’ rising star Johnny Teleaga, turning out for the Warriors.
Warriors recruitment manager Dean Bell said Teleaga had a solid game.
‘‘ We need to watch and analyse the video and a decision will be made about his future very soon.’’
The Orcas were much smaller than their opponents but left everything out on the field, tackling themselves to a standstill.
They stood in danger of being swamped, with the Warriors opening the scoring with a try within five minutes, but they stuck to their structures and went into the sheds up 14-10 at halftime.
The visitors took control in the second period, their superior size and conditioning telling factors as they ran out eventual winners, 32-20.
Petone hooker Kurt Robinson was outstanding, running sharply from dummy half, while the Vikings’ centre Hayden Lewis proved tough to put down every time he touched the ball.
Warriors coach John Ackland said it was a good advertisement for the game.
‘‘It was a great fixture, the rugby league was of a high standard and the crowd was fantastic,’’ he said.
‘‘I have no doubt that there is a wealth of talent in Wellington. To develop this talent we need to be exposing them to regular higherintensity games.’’
Ackland said it was difficult to identify new recruits in a one-off match, but said there was a lot of talent worth keeping tabs on here.
Bell said they would look to host an open trial in Wellington later this year.
In the curtain-raiser match, the Stephen Kearney Cup Selection won a physical match over a Mid Central under-20s XIII by 34-12.
The latter side was made up of players from Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, with the Kearney team picked from Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wellington.