- Maori All Blacks beat RFU Championship XV 52-21
- Tries from Dante Mama and Rhys Crane for the men in red
RFU Championship XV 21 Maori All Blacks 52
Photo: Liss Tomlinson
The RFU Championship XV provided a display which the clubs, supporters, and players in the second-tier will be proud of at Doncaster Knights on Saturday afternoon, despite falling to a 52-21 defeat against one of the best touring sides in the world.
Having only come together three days before the fixture at Castle Park, the RFU Championship XV held the visitors to within 10-points at the break, after which the quality of the Maori opposition proved too much for the men in red.
The score line would suggest a one-sided encounter but in reality, the RFU Championship XV held the upper hand for large portions of the first half, particularly dominating in the scrum led by Alan Paver, Mark Irish and Jon Vickers.
Paver – a Cornish Pirates favourite – said: “For me personally, it’s been the proudest moment of my rugby career. First to be selected and then to represent my club, and then to sing the National Anthem was amazing. Facing the Haka was so special for me and all the boys and for what we represent in English rugby; today was a great day.
“We said we’d leave nothing, we would put it all on the pitch. Yes, you could say at times we overplayed it but we said we’d rather have a go, make a real show of it and a spectacle and let everyone enjoy it. I think we made a good account of ourselves against a very very good side.
“I’ve not been sentimental with shirts in the past but this one’s different. My Mum will have this on her wall for a long time.”
Career highlight for Mama
A second-half try fest by the Maori left the RFU Championship XV 38-points adrift as the clocked neared fulltime, but a determined effort from the XV saw Nottingham’s Rhys Crane slip over the white wash for a well-deserved consolation try, totalling two for the visitors with Dante Mama claiming the first score.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, try scorer and Doncaster Knights fullback Mama said: “It was unbelievable and the biggest moment of my career so far. I was absolutely ecstatic to score; it was a proud performance and a great experience. It’s the best idea, the boys are great and the whole week has been amazing.”