WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Winger Will Jordan scored his second try of the game five minutes into extra time to give the South a 38-35 victory over the North in New Zealand’s first inter-island match since 2012 on Saturday.
Nepo Laulala, Jordie Barrett and Tyrel Lomax also scored tries for the South, who had taken a 31-21 lead midway through the second half only to squander the biggest advantage of the match.
Centre Rieko Ioane scored two tries for the North while Damien McKenzie, Aaron Smith and Ash Dixon also crossed in the match between composite sides representing the country’s two main islands.
The game was once a regular fixture on the New Zealand rugby calendar but had only been played twice since 1986 before Saturday’s game at Wellington Regional Stadium.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster, who will name his first squad on Sunday, said prior to the game that it would probably have little impact on his final selections.
Several players, however, continued their strong form from Super Rugby Aotearoa, with Auckland Blues number eight Hoskins Sotutu making a massive impression after almost two months out due to a knee injury.
The 22-year-old produced several important tackles, was strong with the ball in hand and secured turnovers at the breakdown and proved he could step into the number eight spot vacated by Kieran Read after last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Ioane’s elder brother Akira and Auckland Blues winger Caleb Clarke also impressed.
The match had already been postponed once and moved to Wellington from Auckland because of COVID-19 restrictions. It was also played without a crowd.
The only concerns for Foster could be a knee injury to the South’s Brayden Ennor and a stinging shoulder knock to team mate Jack Goodhue, which proved neither side was treating it as a festival match.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Tom Hogue
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