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Heartland XV rocked by Barbarians’ fast start

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Launching an unanswered 21-point blitz in the first 15 minutes allowed the Australian Barbarians to claim a 40-24 win over the New Zealand Heartland XV in Wanganui on Friday.

The Australians scored tries in the fourth, seventh and 14th minutes and while the Heartland side came back with a converted try and a penalty goal, the visitors scored two more tries by half-time.

The Heartland side were more competitive in the second half but were unable to pull back the deficit.

Using the speed and experience of players who have not only performed at the international Sevens level, as was the case with speedy fullback Paul Asquith, but also played in Super Rugby, the Australians found space and made the most of it.

New Zealand Heartland coach Grant Keenan said his side missed too many one on one tackles in the first 15 minutes and paid the price and in their effort to try to secure ball they were over-committing at the tackle point which allowed the Australians to regather in defence.

That then made it difficult for the home side to get their drive going.

“In the second half we stayed in the fight and competed and that was a gutsy effort,” he said.

Keenan said given the disparity in playing background between the sides it had been a fantastic effort by his side who played three games in six days which was tough.

But the players had responded to that challenge and they were not making excuses as they had shown in their second half effort that they still had petrol in their tanks.

Keenan was also delighted with the way his bench had been able to contribute to the effort for the first time in the series and the whole side had performed well during the week.

Keenan acknowledged the input of former All Black and selector Earle Kirton who had provided some valuable information to the coaching team.

“I hope all the players have learnt something during the week, we certainly have,” Keenan said.

He mentioned three players who were destined to step up to bigger things. Schoolboy first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta, who scored 56 points in the three games, was off to Taranaki where he would be in contention for an ITM Cup place.

Hayden Anderson, the blindside flanker from Thames Valley had played for Australia Under-20 before coming across to New Zealand to play in the Heartland competition and Keenan said he thought he could step along with halfback Lindsay Horrocks who only needed to sharpen his passing to be a player capable of making it in ITM Cup play.

New Zealand Barbarians 24 (Hayden Anderson, Lance Easton, Stephen Perofeta tries; Perofeta 3 con, pen)
Australian Barbarians 40 (Ryan Dalziell, Jarome McKenzie, Dewet Roos 2, Isaac Thompson 2 tries; Thompson 5 con).
HT: 10-33



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