Maitua Feterika’s stunning five-try performance in the final highlighted a successful title defence by Counties Manukau at the NZ Women’s National Tournament at Manurewa’s Mountfort Park.


When Counties Manukau needed a little inspiration to defend their national women’s crown, they found it in veteran international Laura Mariu.

Carrying a heavy injury toll into the final against arch-rivals Akarana Falcons, the South Aucklanders had enough depth to repulse the challenge 34-0.

And, in their seventh game over three days, the experience and skill of Mariu provided the spark in a 22-point first half.

The Stingrays opened the scoring, when Mariu carved through the defence and laid off a perfect pass for Louisa Gago to storm over.

The lead reached double figures, after Langi Veainu fielded a wayward clearing kick and had too much gas for the Falcons to cover down the left side-line.

Mariu converted and then fed an inside ball to Kiwi Ferns team-mate Maitua Feterika for the third try. She provided her third try assist of the half for Karly Te Kawa and, by the break, Akarana were merely searching for some consolation.

They had barely ventured outside their own half through the opening 30 minutes, but pounded away at the Counties line for much of the second half, without reward.

Instead, the Stingrays showed they were capable of manufacturing points from inside their own territory. From a turnover and scrum feed, Veainu found some space and galloped 80 metres for her second try.

Mariu was duly named Most Valuable Player of the final, with captain Sarina Fiso earning overall tournament honours.

“If we had had to play one more game, we probably would only have fielded about five players,” Fiso admitted, surveying her battered crew afterwards.

“This was a hard battle, and the score probably didn’t reflect how hard it was and how hard it felt.”

Loaded with Kiwi Ferns internationals, the Stingrays were probably expected to carry the day, but Fiso paid tribute to team management for bringing the group together.

“They made a group of brilliant individual players into a great team and two months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that.”

This was the first women’s tournament officially hosted by New Zealand Rugby League, after absorbing the women’s programme over the previous 12 months.

2015 NZRL National Women’s Tournament
Puketawhero Park, Rotorua, September 25-27

Counties Manukau Stingrays 34 (Langi Veainu 2, Joephay Daniels, Maitua Feterika, Louisa Gago & Karly Te Kawa tries; Lilieta Maumau 3 & Laura Mariu 2 goals) Akarana Falcons 0
Most Valuable Player: Laura Mariu (Counties Manukau)

Final Placings
1              Counties Manukau Stingrays

2              Akarana Falcons

3              Central Vipers

4              Auckland Vulcans

5              Wellington Orcas

6              Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions

7              Canterbury

Manager of the Tournament: Renee Puru (Canterbury)

Trainer/Medic of the Tournament: Alan Horn (Counties Manukau)

Coach of the Tournament: Shaun Clark (Counties Manukau)

“More Than Just A Game” Fairplay Team: Auckland Vulcans

Back of the Tournament: Annetta Nuuausala (Auckland Vulcans)

Forward of the Tournament: Krystal Murray (Central Vipers)

Player of the Tournament: Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau)


Maitua Feterika’s stunning five-try performance in the final highlighted a successful title defence by Counties Manukau at the NZ Women’s National Tournament at Manurewa’s Mountfort Park.

After holding all comers scoreless through round play, the South Aucklanders were far too strong and fit for upstarts Mid Central to run out 66-4 winners in the decider, running in 14 tries.

Centre Feterika had three of her touchdowns in a 44-point second half, as their rivals fell away over the final stages.

Their only consolation was a try to Sita Kuruyabaki midway through the first half – the only points conceded by the Stingrays all weekend – which had the Vipers trailling only 14-4.

But tries to Kelly Maipi and Debbie-Atawhai Tupaea within sight of halftime put the titleholders well clear and two more immeidately after the break began the avalanche that Mid Central could not stem.

Tupaea had a hat-trick to confirm her status as leading tryscorer for the tournament with 11, while Maipi secured a double for the game.

Both teams had sealed their path to the final after winning their opening games of the morning. At 4-0, neither could be denied a shot at the prize, so their round-robin match-up was called off to save already battered bodies from further damage.

Counties finished the event with an average points return of just under 60 points a game and had not allowed any points before the final.

But Mid Central had emerged as the surprise packets, accounting for highly rated Akarana late on Day One to impose their title claims.

The Falcons also fell to a scratch Auckland Rebels outfit in their final preliminary outing, leaving three teams locked on 2-3 records, but were able to claim third placing on a countback.

Final Placings
1              Counties Manukau
2              Mid Central
3              Akarana
4              Wellington
5              Auckland
6              Canterbury

Counties Manukau 66
 (Maitua Feterika 5, Debbie-Atawhai Tupaea 3, Kelly Maipi 2, Sarina Fiso, Laura Mariu, Teuila Foto Moala, Shantelle Dudley tries; Mariu three goals, Kelley Leota & Fiso goals) Mid Central 4 (Sita Kuruyabuki try); HT: 24-4

Referee – Rochelle Tamarua
Touch – Gina Te Rongomau & Antoinette Grootjans

Tournament referee: Antoinette Grootjans

Tournament trainer: Geneva Webber (Wellington)

Tournament manager: Jo Laurenson (Canterbury)

Tournament coach: Alan Jackson (Mid Central)

Top kicker: Laura Mariu (Counties Manukau)

Top tries: Atawhai Tupaea (Counties Manukau)

Tournament back: Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau)

Tournament forward: Teuila Fotu-Moala (Counties Manukau)

Player of the tournament: Atawhai Tupaea (Counties Manukau)


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