NZ Maori in fine form against Championship XV

Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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New Zealand Maori rediscovered their flair and finishing power as they swamped the English Championship XV 52-21 in Doncaster yesterday.

Jamie Joseph's side rebounded from their shock loss to premiership club Leicester last week to run in eight tries against a combination team made up from the second tier of the English game.

Man of the match Declan O'Donnell scored the first try and had a hand in two others with a lively performance that summed up the approach from a team featuring seven changes and determined to get the short tour back on track.

"We haven't had that long together but we feel like a bonded team," O'Donnell said. "I'm ecstatic. To get a start in my second game and to score a try . . . it's just a dream come true. Now we're looking to win that next one."

The new-look Maori side plays Canada in Oxford on Saturday (NZ time) to complete their short trip.

While the English were impressive with their set-piece work yesterday, they were no match for the Maori forwards' fierce approach at the breakdowns, that produced plenty of possession.

As the Maori got their off-loading game going, they were ruthless with their execution. They ventured into the opposition 22 on 10 occasions and came away with eight tries.

That was in contrast to their efforts against the Tigers, which featured many handling errors.

While the outside backs shone yesterday, with fellow wing Kurt Baker, fullback Trent Renata and centre Jackson Willison all getting on the score sheet, there was the pleasing sight of big locks Elliot Dixon and Romana Graham stretching their legs for tries.

Hooker Hikawera Elliot also scored a try to cap another impressive performance up front while Willie Ripia's confidence and game continued to build in the playmaker's role, unleashing the potent players around him with some good decision-making.

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- The Dominion Post

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