BURNHAM OUTLAST LINWOOD TO CLINCH WOMEN’S GRAND FINAL
Burnham Chevaliers have completed the perfect season, winning the CRL Women’s Premiership grand final at Ngā Puna Wai against Linwood Keas 34-22 to stay unbeaten for 2019 in a match that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats from first whistle to last.
The Chevaliers overcame a 12-point halftime deficit, scoring five unanswered tries to take the spoils.
Burnham struck first after an early weight of possession and territory, crossing through lock and goalkicker Sekolastika Wong on an attacking raid down the left edge.
Lots of endeavour was shown early on but mistakes hampered the flow and neither team could gain momentum.
Almost immediately, Linwood hit back after an error from Burnham coming out from their own line and took the lead 6-4.
The Chevaliers returned serve with a try of their own to regain the lead 10-6 in a seesawing battle. Like boxers swapping jabs, tries were being exchanged by both sides.
Following another error by Burnham, Linwood made them pay with the fourth try in four straight sets and restored their two-point advantage.
After a slight lull in play, the defending champion Keas extended their lead to 16-10 with a try down their left edge, which was proving to be a fruitful option for their attack.
The opening 40 minutes proved to be half of two halves as a war of attrition unfolded after the initial tryscoring fireworks.
With halftime approaching, Linwood again exposed Burnham’s right-hand defence to go up 22-10.
The intensity in the defence of both teams was fierce throughout, but the Chevaliers had a significant mountain to climb after the break.
Early in the second half, the Keas blew a golden opportunity to extend their lead, wasting a huge overlap after a bullocking charge by prop Karita Agafili.
Burnham were the first to score in the second half to narrow the gap on the Keas 22-14.
A superb 65-metre solo try by the Chevaliers’ left winger Kaitlin Bates reduced the gap to two points.
Linwood again failed to cash in on an overlap as the match headed into nail-biting territory. Burnham capitalised to regain the lead for the first time since the 15th minute, hitting the front 26-22.
It was proving to be a brutal grand final with lengthy stoppages for injuries as the intensity of the decider started to show for both sets of players, proving especially crucial for the Keas who went into the match with a depleted bench.
Ill-discipline by the Keas was starting to cost them as the Chevaliers scored again to extend their lead to 30-22.
Burnham showed their class once more with another try that all but sealed their win, taking them out to 34-22.
For Linwood, errors and an inability to take a couple of scoring chances at crucial stages ultimately sealed their fate. Back-rower Angela Petero was a standout for the beaten side, scoring two tries.
The composure shown by the Chevaliers in the second half proved their status as the best team in the women’s competition this year. Bates ignited their attack on a regular basis to finish with a grand final hat-trick, while the mercurial Cassie Siataga bagged a double to go with her three goals.
2019 CRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final
Burnham Chevaliers 34 (Kaitlin Bates 3, Cassie Siataga 2, Darci Bristow, Seolastika Wong tries; Siataga 3 goals) defeated Linwood Keas 22 (Angela Petero 2, Lupe Manu, Lia Ah Sam tries; Lana Muamua 3 goals) at Ngā Puna Wai
Photo Credit: CMG Sports