18 May 2023
In game one of the Harvey Norman Women’s Championship, Ahi kā Aotearoa suffered their first defeat to the First Nation Gems 14-8.
The game started with a cultural salute as the First Nation Gems welcomed Ahi Kā onto the field with an indigenous welcome for their inaugural year.
The game started in a classic arm wrestle match as both teams battled in the first half for possession and territory of the field. The First Nation Gems capitalised off their first opportunity as they forced an error in Ahi Kā’s half, using this to get the first try of the game.
First Nation Gems quickly followed up with another try as they utilised the quick ruck speed they generated to catch the Ahi Kā Aotearoa team off guard to go right through the middle.
Ahi Kā found their groove as they strung together solid runs to gain excellent field position right before halftime. A lovely cut-out ball to Marewa Samson, who delivered some beautiful quick hands to put Kyla Lynch-Brown in for a try, leaving the halftime score 10-4.
Ahi Kā started the second half off firing as they managed to regather the kick restart. Great scrambling defence from the First Nation Gems robbed the NZ side of a try to even the score. Quick play of the balls and fast ruck speed would be the catalyst for the next First Nation Gems try, as the score would be 18-4 with five minutes to go.
Vice-captain Monica Samita would scoot out at dummy half to crash over the line to give Ahi Kā a fighting chance in the game with three minutes to go. With the one minute left and NZ desperately trying to create opportunities, a shift on the final tackle put Marewa Samson in space, who would offload to Kyla Lynch-Brown, who managed to run 30 metres before she got run down by some great scrambling defence from the First Nation Gems to close the game out 14-8.