The Counties Manukau Heat have opened the Farah Palmer Cup with an 89-3 pummelling of North Harbour at Navigation Homes Stadium.
Playing in a locked stadium due to the COVID-19 restrictions in the greater Auckland region, Chad Shepherd’s side put on a clinic as they underlined their status as one of the competition heavyweights.
In all the home side scored 14 tries.
World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Ruby Tui made her Heat debut after making the move north this season and bagged a hat-trick, while fellow winger Waikohika Flesher scored four tries in the romp. Fullback Emily Kitson had a double to make it nine tries to the Heat back three on the day.
Hazel Tubic had a personal haul of 24 points.
“Really happy with today’s effort,” coach Shepherd said. “We showed a lot of attitude and intent.
“We talked before the game about the fact we wouldn’t be perfect today but if we showed attitude and intent, it would take care of itself.
“In a whole I’m really happy. We didn’t let in any tries which was one of our goals.”
With Auckland’s restrictions around gatherings, training over the past few weeks has been extremely limited and both sides were impacted with that while the rest of the competition has been able to prepare largely as normal.
“We didn’t want to use the [lack of] preparation as an excuse,” Shepherd added. “We are stoked the girls went out there with a smile on their faces.
“We won’t get ahead of ourselves. We will have a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks before the Auckland game.”
The Heat will have a week off in week two before a clash with neighbours Auckland at Eden Park on September 20.
Counties Manukau Heat 89: Waikohika Flesher (4), Ruby Tui (3), Emily Kitson (2), Hazel Tubic, Ilisapeti Molia, Mele Hufanga, Harono Te Iringa, Grace Gago tries. Hazel Tubic conversions (8), penalty.
North Harbour 3: H Hutana penalty
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