CANTERBURY WOMEN FIND GROOVE TO OVERWHELM VIPERS
Canterbury has made an emphatic start to its NZRL National Women’s Competition campaign, overcoming a slow start to defeat a spirited-but-outclassed Mid Central Vipers line-up 38-8 at Ngā Puna Wai.
In a comprehensive all-round team performance, the individual display of halfback Charntay Poko was the major talking point of the seven-tries-to-two victory. The former Warriors NRLW playmaker scored two tries in an 18-point haul, orchestrated four more tries with passes or kicks and taunted the Vipers with the boot, including a rare 40-20.
Meanwhile, the space for Poko to weave her magic was created by a dominant engine-room effort, led by indefatigable skipper Sui Tauasa-Pauaraisa and rampaging prop Angela Petero.
Canterbury was made to pay for a first-minute error, with Mid Central five-eighth Odell Junior-Edwards slicing through for the first try from close range.
Another mistake from the hosts coming off their own line proved costly five minutes later. Vipers livewire Paris Paul – dangerous with ball in hand from the outset – darted over from dummy-half to score.
Canterbury’s promising initial attacking raids were foiled by outstanding scramble defence from Mid Central, but the breakthrough eventually came at the 20-minute mark.
From a scrum win, Poko opened up room out the back for long-striding fullback Dayna Napa, who outstripped the Vipers outside backs for an excellent try. Poko slotted the conversion to cut the deficit to two points.
Canterbury bagged their second four-pointer soon afterwards – and Poko was again the architect. The linchpin hoisted a pinpoint crossfield kick, which left winger Gloria Su’a gathered in before dotting down.
Poko continued to terrorise the visitors as the red-and-blacks surged to an eight-point lead just on halftime, backing up a strong charge and offload from powerhouse forward Sui Tauasa-Pauaraisa and crashing over next to the posts.
After being caught on their heels at the start in the first half, Canterbury made a statement in the opening stages of the second stanza. Interchange forward Janaya Mata steamed onto a deft short ball from Poko to put her name on the scoresheet.
Captain Tauasa-Pauaraisa’s tackle-busting running game laid the platform for Poko’s second try, nine minutes into the second half. The influential playmaker was far too strong for the weary Vipers’ goal-line defence.
Mid Central showed some defensive resolve and attacking enterprise in the ensuing period, but Canterbury kept the scoreboard ticking over during the final 10 minutes.
Tarquin Mata came off the bench to power over for a try, before speedy centre Sherrane Maui capitalised on a superb Poko long ball from a scrum – which resulted from the Vipers knocking on a spiral bomb from the No.7 – to cross out wide.
The gauntlet successfully thrown down to the rest of the NZRL National Women’s Competition in its first outing, Canterbury hosts Upper Central at Ngā Puna Wai next Sunday.
Canterbury 38 (Charntay Poko 2, Dayna Napa, Gloria Su’a, Janaya Mata, Tarquin Mata, Sherrane Maui tries; Poko 5 goals) defeated Mid Central Vipers 8 (Odell Junior-Edwards, Paris Paul tries) at Ngā Puna Wai, Sunday, 3 October.
WHEN THEY SCORED (30 min halves)
3 min: Mid Central 4-0 (Junior-Edwards try)
8 min: Mid Central 8-0 (Paul try)
20 min: Mid Central 8-6 (Napa try, Poko goal)
24 min: Canterbury 10-8 (Su’a try)
29 min: Canterbury 16-8 (Poko try, goal)
33 min: Canterbury 22-8 (J. Mata try, Poko goal)
39 min: Canterbury 26-8 (Poko try)
50 min: Canterbury 32-8 (T. Mata try, Poko goal)
54 min: Canterbury 38-8 (Maui try, Poko goal)