CRL GRAND FINAL DAY: SWANS OVERWHELM RAMS IN WOMEN’S DECIDER
Sydenham Swans have powered to a 46-16 victory over Woolston Rams in the 2020 CRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final at Ngā Puna Wai.
The final scoreline defied the ferocity and seesawing nature of the contest for the first hour of the match. The Swans piled on the last five tries after the Rams had narrowed the deficit to a mere four points just after halftime.
Sydenham was first on the scoreboard in the eighth minute as halfback Jerusha Wiley barged over from close range. Charntay Poko nailed the conversion from 10 metres in from the sideline.
Woolston wrested the momentum and levelled up in the 17th minute when five-eighth Bayli Rapira pounced a Swans goal-line error. Halfback Alice Fanene added the extras from a tight angle.
But the Swans heeded that wake-up call, making several long-range breaks and surging to a 14-6 lead with winger Paige Allan diving over in the left-hand corner twice in the space of four minutes courtesy of brilliant work inside from Vicki Logopati-Campbell and Kalala Kidwell respectively.
Again the Rams rallied. The elusive Rapira bounced out of a heavy tackle near the Sydenham line and plunged over for her second four-pointer.
The Swans took a 10-point lead into the break when former Kiwi Ferns centre Corrina Whiley crossed.
Woolston came up firing after halftime, pegging the score back to 20-16 when Allan was unable to handle Fanene’s spiralling bomb. Diminutive Rams winger Santana Dixon’s speed and pure desire saw her win the race for the loose ball. Fanene slotted the conversion but the Rams suffered a crucial blow with the brilliant Rapira helped off with a knee injury.
Corrina Whiley’s raw power and pace again proved too much for the Rams’ left edge defence in the 49th minute, storming over for her second try from a scrum win. Not to be outdone, sister Jerusha slammed the ball down in the opposite corner to complete her double four minutes later and push the Swans out to a 28-16 lead.
The Swans put one hand on the trophy with 15 minutes to go via a 90-metre special. Corrina Whiley gathered in a grubber, bumped off a defender and offloaded for Fuatai Lai Kong, who had too much speed for the Rams’ cover. Lai Kong had another soon afterwards, this time backing up the dazzling sleight of hand and line-break of the classy Poko, who piloted over another conversion from out wide.
Allan completed the scoring – and a grand final hat-trick – with three minutes on the clock after slick passing from Jerusha Whiley and Kidwell.
Kiwi Ferns rep Bunty Crowe was presented with the match ball as player of the grand final.
Sydenham Swans 46 (Paige Allan 3, Corrina Whiley 2, Jerusha Whiley 2, Fuatai Lai Kong 2 tries; Charntay Poko 5 goals) Woolston Rams (Bayli Rapira 2, Santana Dixon tries; Alice Fanene 2 goals) at Ngā Puna Wai
WHEN THEY SCORED
8 min: Sydenham 6-0 (J. Whiley try, Poko goal)
17 min: 6-all (Rapira try, Fanene goal)
20 min: Sydenham 10-6 (Allan try)
24 min: Sydenham 14-6 (Allan try)
28 min: Sydenham 14-10 (Rapira try)
36 min: Sydenham 20-10 (C. Whiley try, Poko goal)
44 min: Sydenham 20-16 (Dixon try, Fanene goal)
49 min: Sydenham 24-16 (C. Whiley try)
53 min: Sydenham 28-16 (J. Whiley try)
65 min: Sydenham 34-16 (Lai Kong try, Poko goal)
68 min: Sydenham 40-16 (Lai Kong try, Poko goal)
72 min: Sydenham 42-16 (Poko goal)
77 min: Sydneham 46-16 (Allan try)