NZRL NATIONAL WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT – DAY 2 WRAP
Plagued by torrential rain and gail force winds, day two of the National Women’s Tournament at Cornwall Park brought plenty of spills, thrills and moments of brilliance.
In what will be a repeat of last year’s final, the Counties Manukau Stingrays will come up against the Akarana Falcons in hopes of securing their ninth successive national title.
This morning’s first game saw Akarana take on Wellington in a game many wouldn’t have predicted to have been so close. Akarana’s strong defence held Wellington down in their own half for the majority of the first half. Those efforts resulting in the first four points on the board through Akarana’s stand-off, Alice Vailea who scored by the post.
Akarana’s sheer ability to force errors at crucial times put the pressure on Wellington to get the basics right – and that they did. Wellington shifted into second gear meeting their opposition’s defensive line at speed, forcing errors from the Akarana camp only metres out from their try-line.
A risky offload by Wellington in their own half saw Akarana score after a solid carry by Billy-Jean Ale carrying two with her all the way to the try-line – score 8-0.
It wasn’t till later in the first half when Wellington decided to surge. By completing their sets and applying pressure to Akarana’s defence, Wellington’s Jayme Nuku managed to get their first points on the board converting her own try to make it 8-6 right before half time.
The second half saw Wellington give away several penalties and of course Akarana capitalised with Laishon Jones putting her hand up for a four-pointer.
Despite Wellington’s Mahalia Polson running in their second converted try of the game, Akarana held on by the skin of their teeth securing a close 14-12 victory.
Another close encounter was the Canterbury v Wai-Coa-Bay decider which would see the winner take on Counties in a semi-final, a crucial game for both teams who were desperate for a win.
It was Wai-Coa-Bay who began their tirade first with a strong set forcing a line drop-out however, a series of turnovers saw no significant field position for any team in the first half with a nil all scoreline heading into the break.
Back-to-back repeat sets for Canterbury in Wai-Coa-Bay’s half saw Cassie Siataga score a fabulous try running through a hole from a short ball. With eight minutes to go, Canterbury were up 4-0.
A beautiful set move from the scrum saw Canterbury strike again minutes later – 8-0. Wai-Coa-Bay were determined to have the last laugh although their final attempts weren’t enough to beat the Cantabrians, with Honey Hireme doing what she does best, running in a try on the final hooter – Final score 8-4.
With both Akarana and Counties winning their semi-finals convincingly, 22-0 and 50-0 respectively, many will watch on to see if Akarana will finally overcome the wrath of Counties to be crowned the 2018 National Women’s Tournament champions.
National Women’s Tournament – Day two
Sunday, 3 June
Akarana 14 – Wellington 12
Counties 12 – Auckland Vulcans 2
Canterbury 8 – Wai-Coa 4
Akarana 22 – Auckland 0
Counties 50 – Canterbury 0
Next games: Monday, 4 June
Cornwall Park, Auckland
5th & 6th playoff: Wellington v Wai-Coa-Bay – 10.30am
3rd & 4th playoff: Canterbury v Auckland – 11.30am
Final: Akarana v Counties – 1pm (livestreamed on NZRL Facebook page)