Punters pack the Park as Maoris maul Champ XV

SPINE-TINGLING: The Maori All Blacks perform the traditional haka before meeting the Championship XV at Castle Park.
SPINE-TINGLING: The Maori All Blacks perform the traditional haka before meeting the Championship XV at Castle Park.
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ALMOST 5,000 people packed into Castle Park to witness the best of the Championship fall to the might of the touring Maori All Blacks.

The tourists triumphed 52-21 in the special exhibition contest at the home of Doncaster Knights.

Dante Mama flew the flag for the Knights after being named as starting full back for the Championship XV and went on to score a try.

And Tom Davies came off the bench to ensure further representation for Doncaster.

A deathly silence fell over the ground as the Maoris performed a spine-tingling haka prior to kick off.

Former Knights fly half Tristan Roberts put the Championship XV in front with a pair of early penalties.

But the Maoris hit back, exposing a lack of cover in the wide areas with slick passing to send Declan O’Donnell over, Willie Ripia converting.

The two sides matched each other in the early stages with a strong battle in the middle of the park.

And the Championship side went back in front on 23 minutes when quick movement of the ball played in Mama to dart over and send the Doncaster crowd into raptures.

The lack of training time for the Championship XV was quickly exposed by the Maoris who punished slack defending.

Kurt Baker and Hika Elliott went over in a five minute spell with Ripia converting both to put the tourists in full command before the break.

Roberts hit back with another penalty three minutes into the second half.

But the tide was firmly in the Maoris’ favour.

O’Donnell broke and fed Trent Renata to go over and convert his own score before spreading of the ball again caught the Championship XV out when Elliott Dixon surged across the line in the corner.

A superbly slick piece of play from the visitors saw them grab their next try.

O’Donnell sent a chip over the Championship cover and Frae Wilson collected to touch down, Ripia adding the extras.

A crunching hand off from Romana Graham helped him over the line while Jackson Willison went over in the last contribution from the impressive tourists.

There was still time from one last say from the Championship XV as Rhys Crane ran onto a deft punt from Jake Sharp who converted the try.

Championship XV: Mama (Atkinson 54), Crane, Streather, Hayter, Bassett, Roberts (Sharp 54), Cattle (Baldwin 54), Irish (Davies 59), Vickers (Stagg 72), Paver (Tomaszczyk 50), Hannay (Green 50), Rouse, Rowan, Burgess Burrows 59), Pienaar.

Maori All Blacks: Renata, Baker, Willison, Bateman (Ngatai 41), O’Donnell, Ripia, Gibson-Park (Wilson 59), Ellison (May 48), Elliot (MacDonald 55), Afeaki Murray 59), Hoeata (Eaton 55), Graham, Crosswell (Christie 48), Latimer, Dixon.

Att: 4,956