Want to know who the next Beauden Barrett or Kieran Read will be? In his weekly column for the Herald, schoolboy rugby expert Herschel Fruean singles out the best First XV matches of the weekend, and some rising stars to watch. Fruean will travel New Zealand looking for the best talent the country has to offer, preview the big games every Friday, provide a wrap of all the results on Sunday, and rank the top 15 First XV teams (based on their performances throughout the season) every Monday morning.
Highlanders under 18s 34
Crusaders under 18s 20
With players coming together from various schools and rugby programmes, you have to credit the coaches for how quickly they're able to take a brand new team and make them a fairly cohesive unit.
In the weekend's game, it took the sides a little while to find their groove. The first five minutes saw players making mistakes, dropping balls, mistiming runs, running into each other and getting lost in where they were supposed to be.
But after that early period, the Highlanders back line got going. With the pace set by halfback Motoki Tanaka and No10 Tevita Asi, the midfield were able to play with high energy and run at the defensive line with intent.
While the Highlanders started better, the Crusaders fought back with their counterparts taking their foot off the gas. Crusaders midfielder Connor Watherston-Spencer scored the first try, leaving the Highlanders backline of asking "who's marking who?"
The Highlanders quickly hit back as their pack fought their way into the match. The battle of the two blindside flankers was one of the best parts of the game as the two mirrored each other - being confrontational and effective in and around the ball.
Harri Langworthy was all over the field making tackle after tackle for the Crusaders, with his defensive production changing the direction of the play. His Highlanders counterpart Harry Taylor was a workhorse in the trenches of the rucks. He moved from the rucks and competed over the ball getting his hands to the ball several times.
Highlanders openside flanker Oliver Griffin was sound, getting himself over the ball and making sure pressure was always felt when the tackle was made. Tall Crusaders openside Blair Ryall showed plenty of speed and a high work rate.
Highlanders fullback Ryan Taylor was dangerous and tricky to bring down, using his speed and making great decisions when looking to exploit gaps in the defence. On the other side, Macca Springer did the same thing but was more effective when using his footwork to get into gaps.
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The Highlanders forwards strength and pace in the second half increased as this side adapted more and turned possessions into points on their way to a 34-20 win.