24 September 2022
FMG Stadium hosted the NZRL Women’s Championship final as the Wellington Orcas met the Auckland Orcas.
Wellington started hot out of the gates as Wellington standout Sarahcen Oliver finished off a right-side overlap to open up the Orca’s account.
A game that favoured the tough wrestle, late footwork and strength saw Oliver cross for a double as Wellington pushed the game out to 10-0.
In a half that Wellington took by storm, the Vulcans were the last to score, with Lanulangi Veainu finishing off a right side shift and swinging the momentum into Auckland’s favour. Mollie Tagaloa could not convert as Wellington took a 10-4 lead into the break.
The Vulcans came out of the second half with a point to prove, and within three minutes, former Kiwi Fern Sharliz White scored down the Orca’s left channel once again.
Auckland quickly asserted their dominance in the second half as Talei Kidd went over, finishing a lovely move down the left-hand side. Shortly after, Final MVP Cesca Luafalealo sliced through the Wellington defence putting Auckland in striking distance. On the next play, a great line from Harono Te Iringa saw her stretch the advantage to eight points.
Not going away, a move from inside their own half saw Wainuiomata’s Tyler Bentley cross the chalk after great interplay between her and Kayla Faitele. However, sloppy errors from the restart afforded the Vulcans field position, and the Auckland side punished them. Number 21 Sapphire Abraham went in from close distance, pushing the lead back to eight.
A late surge from the Orca’s side saw veteran Brooke Tauaneai clean up the ball to score, to a grandstand finish. The Vulcans showed determination, absorbing multiple sets on their line to see the game 22-18.
AUCKLAND VULCANS 22
Tries: Veainu, White, Kidd, Luafalealo, Abraham.
Conversion: Tagaloa 0/3, Abraham 1/2
WELLINGTON ORCAS 18
Tries: Oliver x2, Bentley, Tauaneai
Conversions: Ruaporo 1/4
FINAL MVP – CESCA LUAFALEALO