Sun, 02 Oct 2016
The Counties Manukau Heat have created history by winning the women’s National Provincial Championship for the first time ever, taking victory in the Farah Palmer Cup final 41-22 over eight time defending champions, the Auckland Storm at ECOLight Stadium.
It was a very entertaining match in front of a vocal crowd in Pukekohe. Both sides ran out together and stood facing the grandstand whilst the National Anthem played.
The Heat put the pressure on early in the match, and after just a couple of minutes they had a line-out just 5 metres out from the try line. Their first attempt to score was knocked on over the line, but there was no mistake the second time around, with No.8 Krystal Murray charging over the line to score the opening points of the match. Hazel Tubic converted to make it 7-0.
It was a very physical start from the Heat and the forward pack were right up in Auckland’s face. Only four minutes later blindside flanker Aroha Savage sprinted her way to the right hand corner to score the Heat’s second try, which was converted by Tubic.
However, Auckland, who have won 15 out of the 16 women’s NPC titles, weren’t going to back away and their skipper Fiao’o Fa’amausili got her side on the board through a try. Emma Jensen kicked the conversion.
This fired the Heat up and they went on to score two tries in quick succession. Openside flanker Sharnita Woodman dotted down and Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate finished off a brilliant team try to barge her way over in the left corner. Tubic kicked a penalty right on half time and the Heat went into the break with a 26-10 lead.
The Storm opened the scoring in the second spell, with halfback Emma Jensen finding space to score under the posts and convert her own try to close the gap to 26-17. However, the Heat quickly replied through Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali who threw a dummy to skip her way towards the try line. Tubic kicked the conversion and shortly after nailed a penalty from out in front.
Auckland refused to back down and their No.8 Charmaine McMenamin scored out wide for the visitors to make it 36-22. The scoring went on hold for a period of time, while both sides bolstered up on defence. But once Portia Woodman got her hands on the ball out wide on the right wing, there was no stopping her. She bumped off New Zealand Sevens team mate Tyla Nathan-Wong to dot down and take the score out to 41-22 and that remained the final score.
Heat skipper Arihiana Marino said it was part of their game plan to put the pressure on Auckland early.
“You always need that kind of game plan against a side like Auckland and we are very confident in the game plans we put out on the field. We also pride ourselves on our defence that’s our forte. We are lucky in Counties Manukau as we only have two clubs in the top division, Ardmore Marist and Manurewa so we are a close group of girls. We would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us today. It was a hard game and the score doesn’t reflect how tough the game was.”
Counties Manukau Heat 41 (Krystal Murray, Aroha Savage, Sharnita Woodman, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Portia Woodman tries; Hazel Tubic 4 con, 1 pen)
Auckland Storm 22 (Fiao’o Fa’amausili, Emma Jensen, Charmaine McMenamin tries; Emma Jensen 2 con, 1 pen)