Jarrad Hoeata's foul may prove to be costly
GLENN MCLEAN AND FAIRFAX NZ
He might be on standby for the All Blacks but Jarrad Hoeata's discipline was again called into question yesterday.
Hoeata was yellow-carded late in the match for New Zealand Maori as they desperately tried to overcome an eight-point deficit against Leicester.
The former All Blacks lock is being considered as a replacement for Adam Thomson, who was due to face a judicial hearing overnight for his footwork during Monday's test against Scotland.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen would no doubt have noted Hoeata's latest indiscretion, although it was for a professional foul as opposed to any foul play.
The New Zealand Maori side slumped to a rare low at Welford Road, losing their tour opener to English club Leicester.
The Tigers won 32-24, inflicting the first loss on the Maori side since 2007 and just the second in 23 games stretching back to 2003.
Hoeata said he was "gutted about the loss", which he attributed to "too many unforced errors and poor discipline".
He was not the only Maori player to feel the wrath of the referee, however, with Taranaki team-mate Andre Taylor also shown a yellow card for the first time in his career.
This was a bad loss for a team that has claimed some heavyweight scalps in recent years, including the British and Irish Lions, England, and Ireland as well as second-tier tests sides Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Japan.
Leicester were missing 10 players on international duties. But under the guidance of 19-year-old first five George Ford, deputising for England No 10 Toby Flood, the Tigers managed to dominate in front of more than 17,000 fans.
Ford, who last week missed five of his nine kicks at goal against Northampton, was accurate against the Maori, landing eight of 10 for 22 points.
They included six penalties as the tourists paid the price for their ill-discipline.
The Maori side were both brilliant and bumbling.
They scored a super early try to halfback Frae Wilson - one of 11 uncapped Maori players on show - and added two others to midfield backs Tim Bateman and Charlie Ngatai.
But when the heat went on as they tried to haul in the Tigers, handling errors plagued them.
The heartbreaker for the Maori side came in the 29th minute when the Tigers hacked a ball clear on defence and wing Adam Thompstone collected it for a try against the run of play.
Suddenly Leicester had a 19-point lead and Ford's boot managed to keep them in front.
All of Taranaki's Maori tourists were involved in yesterday's match, with Jason Eaton and Kurt Baker lining up alongside Hoeata and Taylor for the opening whistle, while young halfback Jamison Gibson-Park was a substitute in the second half.
The Maori weren't alone in their struggles as other international teams played matches against English clubs yesterday.
Gloucester beat Fiji 31-29 and Newcastle beat Tonga 24-13.
The Maori play an English Premiership XV in Doncaster on Sunday and complete their short tour with a "test" against Canada in Oxford the following weekend.
Leicester Tigers 32 (Niall Morris, Adam Thompstone tries; George Ford 2 cons, 6 pens) New Zealand Maori 24 (Frae Wilson, Tim Bateman, Charlie Ngatai tries; Willie Ripia 3 cons, pen). HT: 26-17
- © Fairfax NZ News
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