KEA’S EDGE TIGERS IN EPIC WOMEN’S GRAND FINAL
You couldn’t have asked for a better day for the premiership grand final day at Rugby League Park, the last to be hosted at the ground before Canterbury Rugby League’s move to Nga Puna Wai in 2019.
The afternoon kicked off with the Linwood Keas facing the Papanui Tigers in the women’s decider, with the Keas defeating the two-time defending champs 38-33 in a classic encounter.
Both teams came out firing, exchanging some big shots early. Linwood were the first to score, with Amanda Clarke dotting down inside the first 10 minutes. Early pressure from the Keas suffocated the Papanui defence. Five minutes later Leka Pelenato crashed under the posts giving the Keas a 10-0 lead.
Papanui started to absorb the relentless Linwood attack, a superb bit of footwork from Vicki Logopati-Campbell put the Tigers’ first points on the board. Papanui didn’t stop there with their fancy footwork, five-eighth Charntay Poko carving the Keas defence open to level the scores but edging the Tigers in front with the simple conversion.
Linwood started to regain ascendancy leading into halftime with a clinical last-play option for Soala Sa to finish and add four more points. Bridget Quartermain then displayed an excellent bit of skill catching a deflected high ball and running 60 metres to put the Keas a 20-12 ahead.
On the stroke of halftime hooker Kadison Robinson was alert around the ruck and scored for the Tigers, reducing the deficit to four points at halftime.
Linwood started the second half as they did the first with Warriors signing Sui Pauaraisa taking a great offload from Karita Agafili to dive over.
But whatever was said at halftime to the Tigers worked: they blitzed two consecutive tries past the Keas, putting them back in front. Front-rower Yasmin Puru-Tongia scored a sensational 50-metre solo try before Corrina Whiley crossed soon afterwards.
Vicki Logpati-Tongia, again, absolutely sliced apart the Linwood defence with some brilliant footwork to put Papanui 32-26 ahead with 20 minutes to go.
Charntay Poko added more points by taking a slick drop goal from 20 metres out; the onslaught of points really lifted the Tigers and created scoreboard pressure.
However, the game only intensified, and the Keas lifted. Angela Petero showed some outstanding strength to bust over and put the Keas back in touching distance to the lead. The Linwood resurgence continued through a brilliant show of pace by halfback Lou Gard, who sent the ‘dirty bird’ supporters wild by giving them a five-point lead with six minutes to go.
The Keas’ defense in the last five minutes was too strong and they held out the Tigers, sparking massive on-field celebrations.
The crowd were treated an absolutely thrilling match and a match that will be remembered for a long time.
Standout performers from Linwood included Cassie Siataga and player of the match Sui Pauaraisa, who directed their team around the park and added touches of brilliance in the key moments.
Vicki Logopati-Campbell’s efforts on both sides of the ball for the Tigers was exceptional, tearing apart the Keas defense multiple times. Meanwhile, Charntay Poko also had a notable performance showing a great skill with ball in hand.
Watch a full replay of the CRL 2018 women’s premiership grand final via NZRL’s stream below