7th October 2023
The Sky Sport Women’s Premiership finals between the defending champions Akarana Falcons, and the Auckland Vulcans took place at Trusts Arena in West Auckland today. After an intense 70 minutes that saw both sides leave it all on the field, the Auckland Vulcans women claimed their first-ever Premiership title in the teams inaugural season in the competition. This completes a Vulcans double as the men’s side claimed the National Men’s Premiership title against Counties Manukau last week.
Sky Sport Women’s Premiership final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons
Final score: Auckland Vulcans 14-6
As both teams battled against not only each other but also wet and windy conditions, outstanding and hearty efforts were shown in this match-up of the Auckland sides. The Auckland Vulcans were steered by veteran Krystal Rota at hooker and bolstered by strong runners including Onjeurlina Leiataua Hunt and Ngatokotoru Arakua. The Akarana Falcons were up to the challenge putting in tough and physical defence, with second-rower Ilaisaane Taufa standing out, aggressively asserting her strength in all tackles she was involved in. An excellent try-saving tackle by Paulina Morris-Ponga and Summer van Gelder of the Falcons kept the Vulcans from putting points on the board early. The game was scoreless up until 30 minutes in, when Moanekah Vaai placed a cross-field kick that was scored by Christyl Stowers under the posts. Makayla Eli successfully converted, bringing the score to just 6-0 in favour of the Vulcans at halftime.
The intensity did not die down in the second half as the poor weather conditions continued to cause trouble for both sides. A textbook tackle by Saphire Abraham caused the ball to come loose only 20 metres out from the Falcons try line, and the Vulcans wasted no opportunity spreading the ball wide for winger Sarah Filimoeatu to score. Not discouraged, the Falcons fought their way into good-ball area and a fine long-ball from Ronise Matini to Marewa Samson on the edge, saw Samson finish and put points on the board for Akarana. A Vulcans penalty on Samson while she dove for the try line warranted an extra conversion right in front of the sticks, successfully kicked by Taufa which brought the score to 10-6 with under 15 minutes remaining. The formidable Vulcans forward pack barged their way down the field, creating an opportunity for centre Leio Fotu-Moala to find space on the edge and find her winger Filimoeatu who crossed for her second. With mere minutes left on the clock, this ultimately sealed a hard-earned victory for the Vulcans.
The Men’s and Women’s Championship finals for 2023 took place today at West Auckland’s Trusts Arena. The Bay of Plenty Lakers faced off against the Aoraki Eels for a shot at the National Men’s Championship title and promotion to the National Premiership for 2024. The Lakers female counterparts then faced off against the Waikato women in the women’s finals.
National Men’s Championship Final – Bay of Plenty Lakers v Aorangi Eels
Final score: Bay of Plenty Lakers 62-16
The Lakers dominated the men’s match-up after opening scoring with the first two tries in the game from Saxzon Ngaheu and Connor Hohepa. Aoraki replied with a try of their own right under the posts, with Robertson James effectively dummying the defence to put the Eels on the board. Not discouraged, the men from the Bay hit back, with their forward pack charging up the middle of the field and spreading the ball to the right edge for winger Ethan Stuart to score. Although the Aoraki District team struggled to keep the Lakers out, the Eels scored once more before halftime after centre King David Paulo took on 4 defenders to score, bringing it to 28-10 at the half. The second half saw the Bay of Plenty side maintain their scoring momentum, Ethan Stuart scoring a double and Te Mana Te Maari completing a hat-trick. Aoraki’s George Hufanga managed to score once more for the South Islanders just before the full-time whistle, bringing the final score to 62-16. The Bay of Plenty Lakers men claimed the National Championship title and promotion to the Premiership for 2024.
National Women’s Championship Final – Bay of Plenty Lakers v Waikato
Final score: Waikato 22-8
In the subsequent women’s match, the Waikato side came out firing creating an opportunity for winger Katie Corbett to cross for a try on the left edge. In quick succession, her centre Leah-Rhys Toka strong-armed her way through three Bay of Plenty defenders to score another. A third Waikato try by Manirewa Howell put them further in the lead, but the Lakers women successfully put points on the board through Jayleigh Tamati, bringing it to 18-4 halftime. The second half saw a closer contest as strong defensive efforts from the Lakers kept Waikato from scoring until late in the half. The Bay of Plenty women did well to score a second through Kjahn Senior, however Waikato maintained their lead from the first half and scored again, bringing the full-time score to 22-8 in their favour. The Waikato women are now the National Women’s Championship victors and have earned promotion to compete in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in 2024.
01 October 2023
The Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays battled it out for the NZRL National Premiership title at Pukekohes’ Navigation Homes this Sunday afternoon.
However, it was the Vulcans that steamrolled the first forty minutes with nine consecutive tries in a clinical attacking display that never wavered.
The Vulcans scored five quick tries in the first 15 minutes of the half through co-captain Francis Leger, Levi Atiga, Samuel Desmond and other co-captain Simone Feao, who earned a double.
The Counties’ defence struggled to keep up with the Vulcans attacking momentum. Fullback Sefanaia Cowley-Lupo went over for Auckland’s fifth with consecutive tries shortly after to Freedom Vahaakolo and Patrick Sipley.
With a 38-0 score line in the 30th minute, Counties finally found possession. However, a lost ball over the try line saw points go begging. The Vulcans answered back quickly with a try to centre Fiohiva Faingaa, making it 44-0 at the break, a tough hill to climb for the depleted Stingrays.
The Vulcans opened the second half with a try to Levi Atiga, but the Stingrays’ second-rower, Ngarima Pita, finally put Counties on the board through a barging run up the middle, making it 50-6.
Vulcans co-captain Sione Feao answered back quickly with his hattrick as the Auckland dominance continued. Further tries to Sam Ngati, Makaia Tafua and a fourth to Sione Feao sealed the win 70-6.
The Auckland Vulcans were crowned NZRL National Premiers in a clinical 14-try display over Counties Manukau.
2023 Men’s National Premiership, final round
Canterbury Bulls v Waikato 12:00 pm, Navigation Homes Stadium Pukekohe
Final score: Waikato 34-22
In this North Island v South Island match-up, the Waikato men shot out of the gates first, scoring in their first attacking set in only the second minute. A well-placed kick, followed by a remarkable offload by Semisi Moala, put winger Thompson Karena over for a try in the corner. The South Islanders responded quickly with a try of their own produced by veteran left winger Penitito Ilalio, then successfully converted by Daniel Hartley. Capitalising off a repeat set and a Canterbury penalty, Waikato skilfully spread the ball right for Taylor Leef to score. The Cantabrians struggled to keep Waikato out, as Kena Rangi darted from dummy-half to crash over for the side’s third try. To close out the half, a line break by the powerful prop Samiuela Matangi created an opportunity for Mahuta Ngataki to score, bringing it to 20-6 to Waikato at halftime.
In the second half’s opening, the Waikato men continued their momentum, scoring early as Leef crossed for his second. Continuing to dominate through the middle of the park, an excellent kick was collected and scored by Karena in his second of the day. The South Islanders refused to go down without a fight, with #15 Jimmy Wihongi showing his skill and agility in an individual try. This seemingly energised the Bulls as their attacking efforts improved, with some deceptive ball play putting prop Matthew Black in for a try. On the game’s very last play, a pin-point kick put Ilalio in good position to score his second, closing the match. Despite the hearty late efforts by the Canterbury Bulls, the dominance of the Waikato men in the late first half and early second half could not be topped.
Canterbury Bulls try scorers
#5 Penitito Ilalio – 2 tries
#8 Matthew Black
#15 Jimmy Wihongi
#16 Daniel Hartley – 3/3
Waikato try scorers
#1 Mahuta Ngataki
#3 Taylor Leef – 2 tries
#5 Thompson Karena – 2 tries
#14 Kena Rangi
#23 Samiuela Matangi
#6 Evaan Reihana 2/5
#13 Jordan Grace 1/1
The NZRL Men’s National Premiership finals take place today 2:00 pm at Pukekohe’s Navigation Homes Stadium, between the Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays.
The Auckland Vulcans enter the final, contending to claim their first National Premiership title, having earned promotion after winning the 2022 Men’s Championship. Counties Manukau will play in their first Premiership final since 2020, when they narrowly lost to the Akarana Falcons. Both teams enter the final unbeaten and will feature National Championship and Premiership veterans, alongside young talent in their debut men’s representative seasons.
Most notably for the Vulcans, prominent former Junior Warriors Dylan Tavita and Francis Leger will steer the side as they have skillfully done throughout the team’s campaign. Young Warriors SG Ball and NSW Cup players Sefanaia Cowley-Lupo and Makaia Tafua have had stellar performances for the Vulcans thus far and are ones to keep an eye out for.
For the opposing Singrays outfit, their formidable forward pack is bolstered by hardy ball-runners, including brothers Manu and Robert-Alan Fatialofa. The former Cook Island International Reece Joyce will take his position at halfback, while young up-and-comer, Warriors SG Ball player Phranklyn Mano-le-Mamea also laces up for the Counties side.
The Premiership final will be hotly contested as Counties secured their spot in the match-up by beating out the 2022 champions the Akarana Falcons last week. They will look to take that momentum into this contest against an experienced and talented Vulcans side.
The Canterbury Bulls and Waikato men will also play at Navigation Homes Stadium at 12:00 pm in a relegation match to determine who will move into the National Championship for 2024.
Head down to Navigation Homes Stadium Pukekohe, or catch all the action live on Sky Sport!
CANTERBURY BULLS v WAIKATO – 12:00 pm
AUCKLAND VULCANS v COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS – 2:00 pm
25th August 2023
National Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premierships
Every weekend from Saturday 2nd September – Sunday 1st October
The National Men’s Premiership is scheduled to take place over five consecutive weekends, while the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership will span across six weekends, with various host venues located throughout the country.
The upcoming season will see the Akarana Falcons, reigning champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions, defending their titles against familiar opponents as well as new entrants into the competition. These include the Auckland Vulcans in both the men’s and women’s divisions, the Otago Whalers in the men’s division, and the Wellington Orcas in the women’s division.
Otago has been promoted to the 2023 National Premiership and will play their two home games at the prestigious Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Vulcans and Wellington Orcas women’s teams also aim to make a strong impact in the Premiership.
National Men’s and Women’s Championship
Every weekend from Saturday 2 – Saturday 7th October
The 2023 National Championship will be held over six weekends at different venues across New Zealand. With the promotion of last year’s finalists in both men’s and women’s categories, the remaining teams will battle it out to crown new champions and secure a place in the Premiership.
This year’s competition will have two pools in the North Island and one in the South Island to determine the champions for both men and women. The finals will take place on Saturday, October 7th, when the North Island and South Island champions will compete to be crowned the winners of the 2023 National Championship.
Refer to Sporty for full schedule and Kick-off times
Catch all National Men’s and Women’s Premiership games broadcasted live on Sky Sport!
NZRL will release broadcast and streaming information for the National Men’s and Women’s Championship games; keep an eye out for more details over the coming weeks to ensure you don’t miss out.
1 October 2022
The Auckland Vulcans have secured promotion into the NZRL Men’s Premiership for next season with a dominant 48-12 win over the Otago Whalers.
Auckland’s account got off in fast fashion, as five-eight Dylan Tavita went over in the early stages. A few minutes later, Tavita turned provider, providing a lovely cross-field kick for Siapo Pasene to score.
Piling on the pressure, Auckland made Otago rue their mistakes as the ball was left for Mose Esera to pick up and put down as the lead grew to 16.
Otago replied through number 10 Cameron Brown, but Auckland hit right back through Esera, who bagged a first-half double.
Final MVP Tevin Arona got the Vulcans going again in the second stanza, supporting through the middle to further the lead.
Otago found a glimmer of hope a few moments later as James Waterson’s fumble in his in-goal saw Samuel Wyber pick up the pieces, but Waterson redeemed himself, finishing off a great left side shift a few sets later.
Tavita scored his second of the match, and two late tries from Pasene and Mike Williams saw the Auckland outfit comfortably make their way into the Men’s Premiership.
AUCKLAND VULCANS 48
Tries: Tavita x2, Pasene x2, Esera x2, Arona, Waterson, Williams
Conversions: Arona 6/9
OTAGO WHALERS 12
Tries: Brown, Wyber
Conversions: Haugh 2/2
The NZRL Men’s Premiership and Championship finals take place this weekend as North Harbour’s QBE Stadium host all four sides.
The Premiership final features a rematch of the round three clash between Akarana and Canterbury, while 2021 National Competition winners Otago face the Auckland Vulcans in a battle for promotion.
After a devasting 50—12 loss, the Canterbury Bulls will need no motivation as they run out onto QBE.
Both teams will be boosted by significant ins, including Daniel Hartley for the Bulls and former Blacktown Workers half Eiden Ackland. The Akarana side is coming into the match-up undefeated and will be looking to repeat their success from 2020 with another NZRL Premiership.
Both teams have talented players to keep an eye on this Saturday. The aforementioned Hartley has been at the forefront of the Canterbury attack, directing and controlling games at will when he has played. Cook Island international Brody Tamarua and former Warriors NSW cup forward Nicholas Halalilo will be looking to continue their form and set a foundation for the Auckland side to take advantage of. Canterbury fullback Etelani Pouli will also be looking to create trouble on the fringes through his strength and speed with the ball.
The Championship final will be hotly contested as Otago secured their spot in the match-up last week against Southland. The 2021 NZRL Men’s Competition winners will look to take that momentum into this match-up against an experienced and talented Vulcans side.
Former Canterbury and Cook Islands standout Tevin Arona will be looking to steer the Auckland side after a standout round-robin. Otago’s Kiardyn Hatch is also one to watch; the young South Island centre knows where the try line is and will be looking to add another to his tally.
Get down to QBE or watch live on Sky Sport!
AUCKLAND VULCANS v OTAGO WHALERS – 11:05 am
AKARANA FALCONS v CANTERBURY BULLS – 01:05 pm
25 September 2022
Akarana Falcons, remain undefeated securing a win over Canterbury Bulls as they set their focus towards the NZRL Men’s Premiership Grand Finals next week in Auckland.
Akarana started the game off strong building momentum with strong defence and great runs within Canterbury’s half. Strong running from Akarana’s Joseph Price saw him crash over the line to open the scoring for the game. Canterbury’s defence were able to hold the Falcons within their own half building defensive pressure, forcing a loose ball carry ten metres away from Akarana’s try line. The Bull’s second rower Danny Samuelu-Latu capitalised off the error to earn the Bull’s their first points of the match and to even up the score fifteen minutes into the game.
With the game, even Akarana’s Shaun Tempest displayed immense leg drive to score with his first touch of the ball.
Canterbury hit back as Bull’s player Phil Nati managed to collect a loose ball off a cross field kick to even up the score right before halftime.
Akarana drew first blood in the second half as prop Sol Vasuvalagi burrowed his way over to score. Akarana continued to showcase their class and dominate as they scored 38 unanswered points to win the game 50-12.
Tries – Joseph Price, Shaun Tempest, Sol Vasuvalagi x2, James Gavet, Nicholas Halalilo, James Taumata, Chaz Brown, Brody Tamarua
Conversions – Francis Leger 7/9
Tries – Danny Samuelu-Latu, Phil Nati
Conversions – Taniela Leka 2/2
18 September 2022
Canterbury secured their place in the 2022 National Premiership final, winning 26-18 against a strong Counties-Manukau.
Ten minutes in, Canterbury struck first as Daniel Hartley carried on his form from last week, his ball to Tofilau put the centre in space, and a draw and pass saw Penetito Ilalio go over to give the Bulls the lead.
Counties were looking for a reply and found it through fullback Klayton Waikato who burrowed his way over from dummy-half to score against his former team.
The home side was resilient all game, and they weren’t to be outdone, Hartley again putting another man through the Counties left edge. This time it was five-eight Etilani Pouli finishing a right-side shift, pushing the lead to eight points.
Determined not to let the game get away from them, the visitors put the pressure on Canterbury. Eight minutes from the break Fiohiva Faingaa finished off a tremendous right side shift to bring the game to within a try, as Canterbury went into the sheds up 12-4.
With the first points crucial in the second half, Counties scored first as Jerome Mika grounded the ball after a Lorenzo Filimaua grubber beat multiple defenders. Filimaua was unable to convert again, which brought the game level.
Ilalio again put the home side ahead after Canterbury was able to surge down the field. A right-side shift caught the Counties side on the back foot, and the winger finished off a simple move to retake the lead.
Thirteen minutes from time, Canterbury buffed the lead as Sauni grabbed a short ball and beat four defenders to go over and push the advantage to 10.
Counties hit back no long after with interchange Fatialofa charging over, but the Bulls squashed a late surge as Sauni picked up his second try, seeing the game out 26-18.
Tries: Ilalio x2, Sauni x2, Pouli
Conversions: Hartley 3/5
Tries: Waikato, Faingaa, Mika, Fatialofa
Conversions: Filimaua 1/4
It was a hard day at the office for Waikato Mana as Akarana ran rampant in a 68-6 victory.
Akarana started strong with seven tries in the first half. Winger Jeremiah Poutu drew first blood for Akarana with a try on the left edge in the first 5 minutes of the game. Followed by another try from Brody Tamarua, who powered through the Waikato defence, stretching over the line to put Akarana further in front.
With 10 minutes to go for the first half, Waikato were desperate to put points on the board before heading into the sheds. Benefiting from an error from Akarana, Waikato saw Taane Paki desperately kick and chase the ball through the strong Akarana defence to ground the ball over the line.
Akarana wasted no time hitting back and scored their 7th try by Matthew Whyte, adding to his team’s growing try tally, and Tamarua converting to increase Akaranas lead to 40-6.
Akaranas momentum continued into the first few minutes of the second half as Solomon Vasuvulagi easily barged his way through defence towards the try line.
With the score margin increasing, Akarana continued aggressiveness, leading to 4 more tires in the second half. Key player Francis Leger set up another try for his winger Poutu, scoring an identical try from the first half on the right edge this time. Minutes later saw their hooker quick play from dummy half over the line.
Waikato’s defence looked tired as Akarana battered them with attacking prowess and try after try. With 5min left till the hooter, Waikato fought hard, but Akarana were too aggressive and saw their winger Poutu with an extraordinary run, scoring his hat trick to end the game.
A complete performance from the Akarana Falcons saw the final scoring being 68-6 to the Auckland side.
11 September 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted the season openers for both the Canterbury Bulls and Waikato Mana.
Both teams got into the wrestle early before a Waikato error led to an attacking scrum for the Bulls. Off the scrum veteran halfback Daniel Hartley was able to slice through to take the lead.
Waikato hit back through hooker Mahinga Rangi as he beat multiple defenders to score and level up the game. Moments later Rangi made it a double as Canterbury left no dummy-half at the play the ball and the Waikato hooker scooped it up and took it 40 metres to take the lead.
With five to go in the first half, Canterbury were able to crack the Waikato defense once again as Hartley put Reuben Te Amo through a gaping hole to score untouched. Both teams going into the break at 12 points a piece.
In a tight fixture, the Bulls were the first to score in the second forty as utility Devaun Thompson burrowed his way over from dummy half to open the second half account. Joshua Afamasaga doubled the South Island’s sides advantage as he bulldozed his way under the post making it 24-12. With under ten minutes remaining, the Canterbury side went on a tear with Hornby Panther Eti Collins, Samuelu-Latu and Daniel Hartley all scoring as they ran away 42-12 winners.
Tries – Hartley x2, Te Amo, Thompson, Afamasaga, Collins, Samuelu-Latu
Conversions – Hartley 7/7
WAIKATO MANA 12
Tries – Mahinga Rangi x2
Conversions – McLean 2/2
10 September 2022
Old foes Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays took the field for the first round of the NZRL National Premiership at Mount Smart Stadium.
Akarana started the game in fantastic form with Ollie Tuimavave, weaving his way through the defence with excellent footwork to put the first points on the board for the Falcons within the first 5 minutes.
Ill-discipline and costly errors from Counties Manukau in their own half resulted in the Falcons dotting down twice, with tries coming from halfback Eiden Ackland and lock Brody Tamarua. With 20 minutes gone, the Stingrays found themselves with their backs against the wall early. The game entered into an arm-wrestle with both sides able to complete their sets; however, due to Akarana giving away three penalties within their own half, a spirited Stingrays side were able to put their first points on the board with winger Mavae Manukia scoring in the corner.
A successful regather off a short kick-off saw Akarana attacking again in the Stingray’s half. Silky play from halfback Eiden Ackland gave ball-wrecking centre Chaz Brown enough space to bust through a two-man tackle and crash over the line to score his first try for the game.
Facing an uphill climb, Counties responded with their own try, with second rower Sione Fe’ao hitting a nice hole on his opposites inside shoulder to close out the first half.
The dominance continued for the Falcons in the second half as Akarana showcased their technical skill on the edge, putting Nicholas Halalilo over. Determined to mount a comeback, the Stingrays responded with a short kick-off, successfully regathered by Manukia, who made a spirited run to the 10-metre line of the Falcon’s half. Dominant runs from the Counties middles resulted in a beautiful back door play to put winger Alan Niulevu in for his first try of the game.
Strong runs out of the backfield from Akarana’s wingers Lewis Soosemea and Esom Ioka lead to the Counties’ defence scrambling. Falcon’s playmaker Kadiyae Ioka saw this as an opportunity to expose the defence, shifting the ball to the edge to centre Chaz Brown, who would go on to break the line and run 50-metres to grab his second try of the afternoon.
With eight minutes to go, Counties continued to demonstrate outstanding resilience despite the score. They were rewarded with another try to Mavae Manukia, which would close out the game, with the final score being 32-20 to Akarana Falcons.
6 September 2022
The NZRL National Men’s Premiership returns after a year hiatus. Due to covid implications, the Men’s Premiership in 2021 was cancelled, and the NZRL National Competition was formed, with Upper Central Zone defeating Canterbury in the final. In 2022, with all teams available to compete, the NZRL Men’s Premiership will resume its place, with old rivals Akarana and Counties Manukau kicking off the competition.
After being unable to participate in 2021, Akarana will seek to reclaim their premiership title as they face their arch-rivals, the Stingrays.
Saturday’s action kicks off at 11:00 am at Mt Smart as the Asian Dragons face Niue Rugby League in a curtain raiser for the Men’s Premiership. The Asian Dragons are a part of Counties Manukau Rugby League’s (CMRL) Ethnic Rugby League (ERL), which will be a big test against a solid Niuean outfit.
Competition giants Counties Manukau and Akarana follow as they take the field at 01:05 pm to get their tournaments underway.
Sunday sees Canterbury play host to Waikato Mana at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai. In a contest between two of the competition underdogs, both teams will look to start strong and create momentum heading into the later stages of the competition. Kick-off is at 01:05 pm.
Watch all the action live on Sky Sport!
Saturday 10th September
Asian Dragons vs Niue Rugby League – 11:00am Mt Smart Field 2, Auckland.
Akarana vs Counties Manukau – 01:05pm Mt Smart Field 2, Auckland.
Sunday 11th September
Canterbury vs Waikato Mana – 12:05pm Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch.
8th November 2021
as seen on stuff.co.nz
Former Kiwis international Te Maire Martin will return to rugby league just two years after retiring because of bleeding in his brain.
The Daily Telegraph reports Martin has signed a development contract with Brisbane Broncos, subject to final medical clearance.
The report says Brisbane coach Kevin Walters sees Martin as a replacement for Anthony Milford to play outside star recruit Adam Reynolds.
Playing for North Queensland Cowboys, the 26-year-old Kiwi took suffered a bad concussion against Melbourne Storm in 2019, with brain scans revealing a bleed after Martin had complained about severe headaches.
Martin’s agent Andrew Purcell is confident the final medical clearance will be granted.
“When he retired there was a headline ‘if I play again I could die’ and that wasn’t factually correct,” Purcell told The Telegraph.
“No brain expert ever said that. Te Maire was coming off contract and was advised to have a spell.
“Then he retired for two years and started playing a bit of footy with his brothers in New Zealand.
“He felt OK and started playing country footy then rang me up and said he was keen again. He’s had multiple tests and all the scans came back with the green light.
“He feels like he can start fresh and he’s grateful the Broncos have opened the door.”
Martin will train with Brisbane’s NRL squad, but will begin the season playing for Wynnum Manly in the Queensland Cup.
Martin is still in New Zealand, waiting for clearance to travel to Australia.
Starting his career with the Panthers, Martin graduated to the first-grade side after starring in their development sides.
The Waikato native played 14 games in two seasons at Penrith, before a big-money move to North Queensland Cowboys as a long-term replacement for Johnathan Thurston.
Martin made 42 appearances for the club in two and a half seasons before retiring.
31 October 2021
It was a North v South battle in the National Competition Bronze final between the Wellington Orcas and Otago Whalers.
The Wellington Orcas opened the scoring through Sam Filippo, who scored a double within the first ten minutes.
Despite the slow start, once the Southerners got their hands on the ball, they never looked back, scoring 28 unanswered points. The Whalers had all the momentum leading 28 – 10 at the break.
An unfortunate Wellington error under the high ball saw Otago jump on a loose carry to open the scoring for the final forty, extending their lead by 24 points.
It was the Whalers with all the confidence as a series of offloads put Jake Fowler over for his second and Otago’s seventh only five minutes into the second stint.
The Orcas found momentum scoring their first four-pointer since the opening ten minutes, decreasing the margin to 26. A confidence boost saw Bronson Marino cheekily plant their fourth shortly after.
Two conversion misses from the Orcas kept the score 40 – 18 with 20 to go.
The Southerners put any chance of a comeback to bed as they went on to score two unanswered four-pointers. Wellington had the final say on the full-time hooter, but the Whalers got the win with a convincing 50 – 22 victory.
30th October 2021
The sun was shining over Nga Puna Wai as favourites Canterbury and Upper Central Zone clashed with the NZRL National Competition trophy on the line.
Upper Central burst out of the blocks as late replacement Karly Karauna scored in just under two minutes to capitalise off a Canterbury mistake taking an early 4-0 lead.
Canterbury then began to warm into the game, getting on the front foot and converting through U20’s Canterbury representative Uriah Tuli as the Bulls went in front six points to four.
An untimely Canterbury error let the Stallions back into the affair, and fullback Denzil Manu converted that pressure into points which Canterbury would go on to regret. A few minutes later, backrower Kaisa Matautia bulldozed his way over the Canterbury line as Upper Central scored back-to-back and took hold of the game. Connor Hohepa converted to make it 14-6 in the 18th minute, a lead that the Stallions would take into the break.
Upper Central started the second stanza as they started the first as Matautia helped himself to a second, four minutes into the half.
The Stallion outfit continued to pile on the pressure asserting their will in the early stretches of the second half, and points followed. Stallion’s hooker Russell planted a deft grubber kick which he regathered and slickly offloaded to Johnson Peri, who barged his way over to extend the margin. Connor Hohepa made the score 26-6 with thirty minutes left, converting from the left side of the uprights.
Johnson Peri’s 40/20 marched Upper Central up the field and again resulted in points, this time, Matautia completed his hat trick on the left edge. Denzil Manu continued the onslaught as he pounced onto a superb attacking kick from Connor Hohepa and made his way over to extend the lead to 36-6 with just under 20 minutes remaining.
With only ten to go, Canterbury stand-out Penitito Ilalio forced his way over, with substitute Delane Luke scoring two minutes later to tighten the gap to 36-18.
A late try on the buzzer by Zion Kamana was not enough to seal a Canterbury comeback as the underdog Upper Central Zone went on to claim the NZRL Men’s National Competition title, winning 36-22.
Canterbury and Wellington put on an entertaining finals match at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai. The Bulls, showing their class to defeat a valiant Orcas side 20-8.
Both teams came out firing on the defensive end, not willing to give an inch, and it was the South Island outfit who found themselves in an attacking position first. A slew of Wellington errors proved costly as Canterbury ran out to an early 14-0 lead, scoring three tries and one conversion in the first quarter of the game.
With two mins left in the first half, Wellington pushed to put points on the board. A pinpoint cross-field kick from Maryanne Collins saw Sarahcen Oliver make a skilful grab and score an amazing try for Wellington, as the Orcas tightened the margin to 14-4 going into the break.
Charntay Poko’s powerful drive up the middle was unlucky not to be rewarded with points as the pass to Angela Petero was deemed forward.
Another beautiful cross-field kick unfortunately wasn’t capitalised on and resulted in a missed opportunity for the home side.
Wellington forced their way back into the game through captain Aggy Faraimo, but Cantebury’s defence was too strong, saving a sure four-pointer.
Canterbury looked to seal the game with a full set of six in Orca territory. Wellington tried valiantly to hold off Cantebury, but despite their efforts, Sailiai Pau went over, grabbing a hat trick in the process. Poko converted to make it 20-8 with only six minutes remaining.
Despite a last-ditch effort from Wellington, it was Cantebury who went on to claim the Women’s National Premiership for 2021 with a 20 – 8 victory over the Orcas on home soil.
22 October 2021
In light of yesterday’s Covid announcement, the following National Competition games have been cancelled due to a Level 3 extension in the Waikato: Waikato Mana v Upper Central Zone Men and remaining Upper Central Women’s games against Mid Central and Canterbury. The competition points for each game will be shared.
The National Competition finals are taking place next Saturday, 30 October at Nga Puna Wai stadium in Christchurch.
Canterbury Women and Wellington Orcas Women will face off in the Sky Sport National Women’s competition final at 12 pm. Then the Canterbury Bulls will take on the Upper Central Stallions in the National Men’s Final at 2 pm. Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport.
*Please note there are no Waikato based players in the Upper Central Stallions Men’s team.
The 2nd place Final between the Otago Whalers and Wellington Orcas is also scheduled for Saturday 30 October; kick-off time and broadcasting are to be confirmed pending travel arrangements.
NZRL would like to thank all zones, districts and players for their understanding and co-operation during this time.
In the meantime, NZRL encourages all those in Level 3 regions, Tāmaki Makaurau and Waikato, to stick to their bubbles, wear a face mask, and continue to abide by Covid protocol.
Any person feeling unwell or presenting cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
17 October 2021
Puketawhero Park in Rotorua played host to the Upper Central Stallions and Wellington Orcas, in their National Men’s Competition matchup. Upper Central showed no signs of rust despite this being their first outing in the tournament and sailed to a 30-12 win over Wellington. This win moved the Stallions into second in the Central pool, with Waikato leading due to points differential.
Canterbury and Wellington women put on a thrilling 20-20 draw at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai. Canterbury possessed a slight advantage into the half and pushed it further by striking early in the second. With the game in the balance at 20-16, Wellington produced the spectacular, scoring with only seconds on the clock to level the scores but were unable to convert leaving both teams to share the honours. This result places both teams tied at the top of the leaderboard with three points each, only separated by points difference and with Canterbury possessing a game in hand.
The Upper Central Stallions convincingly got the win over the Mid Central Vipers with a 58-10 victory, keeping them at second place in the Central Men’s pool. Nga Puna Wai then played host to the upset of the season as first placed Bulls took on second place Otago Whalers for the first time in 50 years.
It was the Whalers that came out firing scoring the first points for the game but the Bulls didn’t take long to answer back. The Whalers kept their upper hand throughout the first half and despite conversion misses, they lead the home side favourites 18 points to 12 at the break.
The Whalers determination didn’t waver at halftime as they came out of the sheds hungry for a win. The Bulls managed to keep themselves in the contest, as the final five minutes was a nail biter for both coaches with only eight points between the two. However, the gutsy Otago outfit came away with a historic 36 – 28 victory over the Canterbury Bulls closing off an outstanding day of footy at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai stadium.
10 October 2021
The Otago Whalers grabbed their first victory in 2021, connivingly beating the West Coast Chargers 56-4. Peter Johnstone Park played host as the home team got out to an early 16-4 lead and did not look back. The Whalers piled on the pressure and showed a professional display avenging their defeat to Southland in Round 1.
A tight, back and forth affair between the Orca Women and Mid-Central Viper Women ended in a 22-12 win for the Orcas side. The Vipers struck four minutes into the game to put them up 4-0 until the home side hit back with a try of their own. Wellington scored crucial tries on both sides of the break to firmly put them in the driver’s seat before a late score saw Mid-Central enter the fray once again. The Orcas then put the game to bed just before the full-time siren and earned their first win of the campaign, as the Vipers dropped to 0-2.
Wainuiomata hosted Men’s National clash between the Wellington Orcas and the Mid-Central Vipers, as both teams got into the wrestle early. The sides both traded scores going blow for blow until a penalty for Wellington gave them an opportunity to score and open the floodgates. Wellington went on to score 30 unanswered points as they asserted themselves into the game and began to show their class. The Mid-Central side hit back with a beautiful chip and chase to bring them to within 14, but an error from the Vipers let the Orca’s back in and scored three straight to finish off the game.
Nga Puna Wai played host to the one Sunday National Competition game due to Covid postponements, where favourite Canterbury Bulls faced the hearty Southern Rams.
The first half was an impressive arm wrestle between the two South Island teams. Pio Ioane opened the scoring for the home-side Bulls but a determined Korey Pennicott answered straight back for the Rams. Ethan Plasskett put the Bulls back in front before Penitito Ilalio scored an intercept try defusing what would have been a guaranteed Southern four-pointer. The Ram’s answered back as Jiuta Navakuka jumped on a beautiful in goal grubber from half-back Anisoni Kaufononga, bringing it back to a four-point game. The Ram’s attitude never wavered forcing a plague of Bull’s errors as the home team were unable to capitalise on field position. The halftime hooter sounded as Canterbury held on to a 16-12 lead.
Sincere got the scoring underway for the home team in the second forty but the Ram’s answered straight back through star halfback Anisoni Kaufononga, bringing it back to a four-point game. A series of tough calls went against the Rams and the Bulls capitalised. Momentum was with the home side for the remainder of the half as the Bulls came away with a 38 – 18 win.
3rd October 2021
The NZRL National Competition entered its second week of round one as Waikato met Wellington and Otago faced off against Southland. The Women’s competition also saw Upper-Central take on their Wellington counterparts.
Davies Park in Huntly played host as Waikato ran away 54-16 winners against Wellington in round one of the NZRL National Competition.
Waikato started strong and dominated throughout as they piled on the points early. Tries to Filipo and Ulaula brought the Orcas back within striking distance, but they couldn’t overcome a clinical display by Jayden Flood, who scored four of his own in the first stanza. Former Kiwi Te Maire Martin made his return to representative rugby league and had his footprint all over the game, scoring two and assisting three.
A solid first outing from last year’s NZRL Championship winners Upper-Central run out 32-4 winners over Wellington. The Stallions came out of the blocks strong and never relinquished the lead after Manirewa Howell’s opening score in the third minute. Harata Butler and Ngamoko Totorewa both scored doubles as Upper-Central started their competition off with a win.
Southland Men edged Otago Whalers 28-18 at Elles Road Park, Invercargill, to earn their first win of the 2021 campaign. Southland moves to second in the Southern pool.
Nga Puna Wai played host to day two of the National Competition as the Mid Central Vipers women took on Canterbury Women in the first clash of the day.
The Vipers had all the momentum to begin the game as Odelle Junior Edwards opened the scoring for Mid Central. Hooker Paris Paul kept Canterbury guessing as she went over for the Vipers second shortly after.
After 20 minutes, Canterbury fullback Dayna Napa opened the scoring for the home team, and it was all Canterbury from there.
Gloria Su’a scored off a Poko cross-field kick shortly after, while Poko dotted one down for herself right before the halftime hooter, giving her side a 16 – 8 lead.
Canterbury maintained their dominance right throughout the second half with four unanswered tries to the home team, securing themselves a convincing 38-8 victory over the Mid Central Vipers Women.
The Men’s National Comp clash between the home side favourites Bulls and West Coast Chargers followed as Toi Sepuloni opened the scoring for the Bulls in the first two minutes.
It was all the Bulls, as they claimed six more unanswered tries before the halftime break as the Chargers struggled to get their hands on the ball.
Despite the one-sided display, the West Coast chargers earned themselves their first points of the game to begin the second forty through five-eighth Jordan Duggan. However, momentum was short-lived as the Bulls answered back quickly off a West Coast mistake shortly after.
From there, the Bulls ran away with the game, too good for the Chargers scoring seven more unanswered tries, taking the total Bulls’ try tally to 15, earning themselves a convincing 82 – 6 victory.
West Coast Chargers (30) v Southland (20) – Wingham Park, Greymouth
Waikato Mana (54) v Wellington Orcas (16) – Davies Park, Huntly
Southland (28) v Otago (18) – Elles Road Park, Invercargill
Canterbury Bulls (82) v West Coast Chargers (6) – Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch
Upper Central Stallions (32) v Wellington Orcas (4) – Davies Park, Huntly
Canterbury Women (38) v Mid Central Vipers (8) – Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch
24 September 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the 2021 National Competition will kick off this weekend, albeit in a revised format.
This year’s National Competition amalgamates both Premiership and Championship divisions into a singular competition consisting of regional pools.
The regional pool format means teams outside of Auckland can begin playing this weekend, while Auckland teams can join when Covid levels allow, without disrupting the flow of the competition.
The 2021 Men’s National Competition consists of three regional pools:
Monday, October 4, the government is set to make a decision on Auckland’s Alert Level. If Level 3 is extended, the Northland / Auckland pool will not compete in this year’s National Competition.
Saturday 30 October will see 1st Men’s Central take on 1st Men’s South Island and 2nd Men’s Central take on 2nd Men’s South Island. If the Northern pool cannot compete, this will be the Men’s National Competition final and runner up match.
If the Northern pool can compete due to a successful Alert Level change on October 4, the winner of the 1st Central v 1st South Island final will go on to play 1st place in the Northern pool on Sunday, November 7, to which the winner will be crowned National Men’s Champions.
The 2021 Sky Sport Women’s National Competition follows a similar format where both Premiership and Championship divisions have been amalgamated to form a singular competition consisting of two regional pools.
The Central pool will kick off next Saturday, October 2, while the Northland pool will kick off Sunday, October 17, subject to Auckland successfully moving down Alert Levels, post-October 4 announcement.
The Sky Sport Women’s National Competition Final will take place before the National Men’s Final on Sunday, November 7.
If the Northern pool cannot compete due to an extended Level 3, the Women’s National Competition Final will see 1st play 2nd of the Central pool. If Northern can partake, the final will see top of the Central pool take on top of the Northern pool, to which the winner will be crowned Women’s National Champions.
NZRL is also exploring the possibility of running the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in Q1 of 2022 if the Northern pool cannot compete this year.
Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL, says, “Despite the disruptions the pandemic has brought, for the second year in a row, it’s exciting we can present a 2021 National Competition.”
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their continuous support of our game, as well as all our Zones and Districts who have been understanding of the task at hand. Restructuring the National Competition is no easy feat, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without everyone’s input and co-operation.”
“We look forward to seeing players take the field for their regions after disrupted seasons across the country, and fingers crossed Auckland can join down the line”, he adds.
“We encourage everyone to continue to follow health and safety protocol and thank all of our communities for their ongoing patience and understanding during these times.”
The South Island Men’s pool kicks off this weekend when the West Coast Chargers take on the Southland Rams, Saturday 25th September, 2:30 pm at Wingham Park, Greymouth.
The Central Men’s and Women’s pools kick off next Saturday, October 2, with a doubleheader at Davies Park, Huntly. Waikato Men will take on the Wellington Orcas, following the Upper Central Zone Women v Wellington Women.
Not all National Competition games will be televised live on Sky Sport; NZRL will provide further information on where and how to watch each game when the complete draws are released early next week.
Northland has decided not to compete in this year’s 2021 National Competition, however, we look forward to seeing them return in 2022.
No crowds are permitted at any Men’s or Women’s National Competition games under Alert Level 2.
Old foes Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays took the field today for the final of the NZRL National Premiership at Trust Stadium.
Preston Riki put first points on the board for the Falcons, pushing his way over the defence in the opening minutes of the match.
Enthusiastic defence from the Stingrays forced an error on the Akarana Falcons just 10 meters from their try line allowing the Stingrays to launch an attack of their own. After a mistake from the Stingrays, the Falcons took advantage and forced their way downfield, Riki scoring his second try of the match in the same spot within the first 11 minutes.
Counties Manukau’s Penehuro Toai came short of scoring the first try for his team, handing the ball over on the fifth tackle. Akarana immediately put the foot down and took the ball to the other end of the park after a perfectly timed kick from Api Pewhairangi. Francis ledger helped himself to four points, scoring an impressive try just short of the dead ball line. Sam Faapito showed his skill on the wing showing extraordinary pace to score a follow up try, increasing the lead over their opponents by 24 points in a matter of minutes.
An energy shift for the Stingrays saw Richard Holani score his team a much-needed try with only 6 minutes to go in the first half.
Counties Manukau their own worst enemy awarded the Flacons a try off an intercept. Ray Tuimalo-Vaega ran 80 meters to score an excellent solo try to increase the Falcons lead at half time 30 – 6.
Points came quickly in the second half for the Akarana Falcons. A dominant attacking line saw Faapito stroll over the try line twice within 10 minutes for his hattrick. Akarana took advantage of mistakes the Stingrays didn’t learn from.
Facing an uphill climb, the Stingrays weren’t ready to back down just yet. Toai crashed over to score his first try. The try coming a little to late to change the outcome of the match.
Dominance continued for the Akarana Falcons as tries kept rolling in. It started with Chase Bernard slipping off 2 defenders to score the 8th try for the Falcons. Off another excellent kick from Falcons teammate Pewhairangi, Casey Smith quickly followed up with a try of his own. A deflated Stingrays team allowed yet another untouched try to the Falcons through Matiu Stone Dunn. An excellent 11th team try for the Flacons saw Pewhairangi score after weaving around the defence.
Cole Waaka would close out the match for the Akarana Falcons scoring a try in the last minute of the match. The Falcons finish the season in convincing fashion, winning their fifth consecutive Premiership title with the final score over the Counties Manukau Stingrays 64 – 18.
31 October 2020
A clinical 80-minute display by Counties saw them crowned Sky Sport Premiers, taking out the women’s title for an 11th consecutive year.
Crushing defence kicked off the final clash between Counties Manukau and the Akarana Falcons but it was Counties who found themselves in good attacking position first.
A cross-field kick saw Kere Matua skilfully catch it over the line however momentum wasn’t on her side as she fell over the dead-ball line.
Errors began to creep in for both sides as a result of the bucketing rain, Counties and Akarana both struggled to defuse the ball. However, it was Akarana’s error that proved the most costly as Counties’ powerhouse Kararaina Wira-Kohu barged over for the first points of the day on the ensuing set. A successful conversion put Counties in front 6 – 0 after 15 minutes.
Akarana’s Karli Hansen found space off a clever grubber through the Counties defence. It was a race between Hansan and Counties fullback Amber Kani that saw Akarana regain possession due to an offside penalty. Akarana were back in good attacking position but a mistake saw the opportunity go begging.
Maitua Feterika’s powerful drive up the middle put Counties back on the attack. A slick left side overlap put centre Kere Matua through the gap and comfortably over for her first try. Matua was unable to convert her own four pointer, the score 10 – 0 with ten to go until half time.
Strong Counties defence saw Akarana struggle to make it out of their own half, Counties were back on their 10-metre line and once again a clinical left edge shift resulted in Kere Matua earning her second four-pointer right before half time.
A missed conversion kept Counties lead at 14 heading into the sheds.
A beautiful cut out pass from Counties Captain Krystal Rota allows Ricshay Lemanu to barge over the Akarana defensive line for Counites fourth and first points of the second half.
Ball handling errors crept in again for both sides as the rain settled in once again, an uncharacteristic error at the scrum from Krystal Rota gifted possession back to Akarana yet they couldn’t capitalise.
Another barging run from Maitua Feterika saw her go inches from the try line but an impressive try-saving tackle from Akarana forward Lani Latoa-Williams held her up.
Counties then stormed down the opposite end of the field and an inside ball from Kere Matua puts winger Alexis Thompson over the line extending Counties lead to 22 points, Kere Matua converts making it 24 – 0 with 15 to go.
Counties were back in attacking position again to expose the Akarana right edge defence as Alexis Thompson went over for her second. Counties unable convert, the score 28 – 0.
Shortly after, Counties are back on their line as the Akarana defence struggles to contain the powerhouse Counties forward pack. Kere Matua then barges on the loose ball scoring her hattrick for the day, Counties convert extending their lead to 34.
Akarana win a turnover ball and find their second wind despite the adversity on the scoreboard, a good team attacking effort resulted in Akarana winger Sharliz White going over for Akarana’s first points making it 34 – 4 with ten to go.
Despite a last-ditch effort from Akarana, it was Counties who dominated for the 80 minutes, rightfully earning their 11th straight women’s title with a 34 – 4 victory over the Akarana Falcons.
It was the much-anticipated battle of the two islands with the Northland Swords receiving the opening kick only to be hit by stiff Otago defence. The high intensity did not dissipate, as each tackle in the opening few sets for both teams backed with force.
The Whalers first chance off a set piece inside Swords territory produced points as a great backline move saw Fullback Tama Apineru cross over in the right corner. Try converted by Mackenzie Haugh opened the scoring at 6-0.
The Swords succeeded in retaliating immediately as their first set with the ball resulted in points. Halfback Jesse Epiha regathered a grubber from Levita Levita to score under the posts. Converted by Levita to even the score with half an hour remaining in the half.
A great set off their own goal line ended in spectacular fashion as once again a grubber saw the Northern Swords earn points. This time it was left-wing speedster Tevita Henare-Schuster chasing a long grubber to score in the left hand corner. Levita unsuccessful with the conversion leaving the score at 6-10.
Lock forward, Jake Fowler looked strong for the Otago Whalers early on, with decisive runs and hefty defence causing problems for the Swords.
A back and forth fixture saw chances for both Otago and Northland go begging, despite this, the Swords were the ones who capitalised, adding to their score through interchange Manaaki Tawhiwhirangi. A successful conversion saw the lead increase by 6 bringing the score to 6-16 with just under 20 minutes remaining in the half.
Momentum was clearly on the Northern Swords side as on the ensuing set, an offload from captain Ross McFarlane gifted Manaaki Tawhiwhirangi his second in under five minutes. Levita, who has kicked well all day converted to bring the score to 6-22.
Otago refused to quit as a few great runs gave them good field position on the Swords goaline. A cross kick was placed for left winger Saimone Samate who leaped into the air to catch the ball and score. The conversion was missed to bring the score to 10-22 as the half time hooter sounds.
Swords were the more clinical team in the first half, less errors saw them in better chances to score, hence the lead.
A slight drizzle greased the field as the teams returned for the second half, Otago used this to their advantage marching down the length of the field in their opening set.
The Whalers found themselves camped on the Swords goal line earning a number of repeat sets. Which finally resulted in points with Simone Fa’oso crashing over for the opening try of the half. A missed conversion left the score at 14-22.
Multiple errors saw both teams hand over possession in the centre of the park, the rain playing its part in this grand final.
The Otago centres played their part in this fixture, both Fa’aoso and Solia were a menace to tackle for the Swords.
A dropped intercept from Swords winger Eroni Biukoto almost saw the Northern side seal the game.
With under 20 minutes remaining the game remained at 14-22 as a combination of great defence and errors from both sides did not allow one another to take hold of the second half.
The intensity began to pick up in the latter stages of the half, led by right centre Tofatuimoana Solia.
With great field position the Whalers placed a cross kick in again looking for left winger Saimone Samate. However a great cover tackle from Eroni Biukoto saw him pushed over the touch line.
Again, the Whalers found themselves on the Swords goaline, and after a scrappy last tackle option the scoring drought was finally broken through lock Jake Fowler score, a well deserved try from the Otago workhorse. The try was converted to bring the score to a tantalising 20-22 with seven minutes remaining.
The rain causing problems once again, the Whalers hooker Troy Antsiss losing the ball in their own half to give the Swords great field position.
In a crazy sequence a fifth tackle grubber from the Northern Swords was blocked and recovered by the Otago Whalers. This was then kicked through to chase by right wing Piliu Tavake who would have surely score had he picked it up. Unfortunately for him an error saw the Swords hold on with two minutes remaining.
With less than a minute remaining the Otago Whalers go 80 metres in an attempt to win this game, a kick that went too strong saw the Northern Swords hold on to win the 2020 NZRL championship 22 – 20.
A nail biter of a game, wonderful conclusion to a great competition.
A scrappy affair at the Trust’s Stadium saw the Upper Central Stallions look to end their undefeated season with a final win over rivals Auckland Vulcans. Defence was the meta in this game, as both sides showed heart and effort, forcing the opposition into mistakes.
An early mistake from Auckland Fullback Keri Ratima allowed the first opportunity for Upper Central but the defence stood firm, taking Upper Central captain Dorta Adams over the side-line.
A mistake off the next set from Auckland gave another chance for the Stallions and this time they made them pay. A sharp left-side shift saw Niu Milo put through fullback Autumn Stephens, who is arguably the most in-form player of the competition, untouched for the first points of the game. Trisha Tarsau-Hina unable to convert as the score remains 4-0 in the 3rd minute.
Opportunities were abundant for both sides throughout the half, but ball security and lack of discipline halted any side from crossing the line. Edge defence kept play through the middle and the aggressive nature of the game took over, with big hits causing many dropped balls.
Upper Central go into the sheds with the upper hand with a four-point lead over Auckland.
A great solo try from Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme-Smiler increased the Stallions advantage in the second forty. Honey showed her class and veteran savvy to take the game by the scruff of the neck and give her team an eight-point buffer. Tiria Anderson unable to convert, Stallions remained up by eight at the 42nd-minute mark.
Auckland marched down the field and received a penalty late in the set and after peppering the Stallions line were finally able to crack the stout defence. Half Kaylarnee Murray utilised her brilliant footwork to swerve through on the last and score next to the left upright. Hooker Jhana Magele slotted her conversion kick over to tighten the deficit to two.
The Vulcans then took their first lead of the game after a barnstorming break from Shontelle Woodman. Off the back of the break, a right side swing saw Tanika Noble take her chance as she went over to put the Vulcans in front with 20 to go. Conversion unsuccessful from Magele, score stood at 10-6 in favour of Auckland.
A mistake and crucial penalty in favour of the Stallions put them in ideal attacking position with five minutes to go. Stallion forward, Jayde August then bulldozed her way from the tap restart to put Upper Central back in the lead with only four minutes remaining. Stallions again unable to convert as they take a 12-10 lead going into the last phases of the game.
After a tantalising finish, The Upper Central Stallions did enough hold off a late surge from Auckland to capture their first National Women’s Championship trophy, the final score Upper Central Stallions 12 – Auckland Vulcans 10.
30 October 2020
This Saturday, the Trust’s Stadium in Auckland will host the final clashes of the New Zealand Rugby League National competition showcasing the best grassroots talent from up and down the country. Here NZRL will crown the Women’s and Men’s Championship winners and Sky Sport Women’s and NZRL Men’s Premiership champions. For those who can’t make it, the Championship games will be live-streamed on NZRL’s Facebook page thanks to Radio Tainui, and the Sky Sport and Men’s Premierships will be televised live on Sky Sport and Fox Sport/Foxtel for Australian viewers.
Women’s Championship Final 10:30 am – Field 2
Upper Central Stallions vs Auckland Vulcans.
The Women’s Championship Final will see the Upper Central Stallions take on the Auckland Vulcans. Upper Central go into the game with the upper hand after they defeated Auckland 18-14 behind in a clinical display from fullback Autumn Stephens. Stephens continued her form throughout to land a spot in the Kiwi Fern’s wider squad and will be a player to watch in this matchup. This final will commence the jam-packed day of rugby league action with a 10:30 am kick-off. Thanks to radio Tainui the game will be live-streamed on NZRL Facebook page.
Men’s Championship Final 12:15 pm Field 2
Northern Swords vs Otago Whalers.
The North Island Champions; The Northern Swords will take on South Island Champions; Otago Whalers in this North v South battle at 12:15pm. The Swords, off the back of great play from half Levita Levita and deep backs Eroni Biukoto and Matthew Kahle secured a spot in the final after Wellington upset the Upper Central Stallions in the last game of the tournament. South of the Cook Strait, it wasn’t as close of an affair as Otago went through the tournament undefeated to book their spot in tomorrow’s final.
Thanks to radio Tainui the game will be live-streamed on NZRL Facebook page.
Sky Sport Women’s Premiership Final 2:05 pm Field 1
Counties Manukau Stingrays. vs Akarana Falcons.
Counties Manukau will be looking to secure an 11th straight Women’s title win when they face the Akarana Falcons tomorrow in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership final. Both teams dominated the Premiership competition but it’s Counties going in as favourites as they remain undefeated. The two met on October 10th and Counties ran away with a dominant 40-10 win, but with the quality of Apii Nichols at the back and Jules Newman on the edge, Akarana will look to bounce back against the Stingray side. Counties captain and Kiwi Fern Krystal Rota will look to provide the same spark she did on that day and lead her team to another winning Title. With the Kiwi Ferns’ selectors looking to narrow the wider squad post-finals, this is shaping up to be a passionate affair with much on the line.
Kick-off at the Trust’s Stadium is at 2:05 pm and the game is televised live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox Sport / Foxtel.
Men’s Premiership Final 4:05 pm Field 1
Akarana Falcons vs Counties Manukau Stingrays.
In the same vein as their women counterparts, both Counties and Akarana dominated through the competition to reach the Premiership Final. However, they were unable to be separated in their October 10th matchup as the game ended spectacularly in a 12 all draw. The matchup between halves Drew Radich of Akarana and Stingrays Samuel Nati will be an exciting affair as both have been in sublime form throughout, marshalling their troops well. Akarana will be determined to defend their crown in the last game of the evening in what will be a much-anticipated re-match and one not to miss.
Kick-off is at 4:05 pm and the game is televised live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox Sport / Foxtel.
18 October 2020
“You’ve got to meet them to beat them and muscle up” was the message from Waikato Head Coach Marrin Haggie in the pre-game interviews and it wasn’t to be for the Waikato Mana.
In the first 30 seconds, Counties Manukau showed they meant business with a Nicholas Worthington try that was easily converted to put the visitors in front 6-0.
Connor Taurua-Purcell was hard to stop as he wriggled out of a tackle to cross the line for Counties for the side’s second try and Doyle kicked two from two to push their lead to 12-0.
There were plenty of coach killers for Waikato coach Marrin Haggie to mull over with spilled balls at crucial moments for the home side who succumbed to the pressure mounted by a strong Counties defense.
Mcgee was strong under the high balls and used that to his advantage. The hits just kept coming from the Stingrays scoring successive tries and extending their lead to 24-0 with Doyle’s boot adding the extra points each time.
But Counties could have been guilty of complacency as a few offloads worked in Waikato’s favour to see their first points added to the scoreboard, much to their relief in the 25th minute of the first half (24-4).
A rare 40/20 had Waikato back in Counties territory looking promising to score again but the ball was dropped right on the line.
Waikato didn’t have time to dabble in disappointment as Counties took the quick restart and before we knew it, Filipe Vaeafisi was dancing down the wing to score a four-pointer followed by another successful conversion from Doyle (30-4).
Taufa added to their growing tally a minute later with another try five minutes before halftime, Doyle’s first missed conversion coming from out wide – the score remaining 34-4.
Waikato must have been tuned up at halftime as they came out fighting in the second half and opened the scoreboard for the second 40 with Siteine crossing the line for Waikato’s second try (34-8).
Counties Manukau’s first of the second half came moments later with McGee floating through a lacking Waikato Mana defense to bank another four points for the visitors.
The first 20 minutes of the second half saw a much closer battle with the two teams at one try a piece right before Waikato’s talented youngster Keanu Dawson powered over the line to score his side’s third try of the game – scoreboard reading 38-14.
For Waikato, the final 20 minutes had to be all about closing the gap and we certainly saw more kaha from the Mana as they looked to get back in the game. Their sets got better and better as possession started to build forcing their first line drop out in the 66th minute.
Some brilliant play from Waikato on the back of the line drop out had Chase Kennedy scuttle across the line with some brilliant footwork and with the try converted, the Mana suddenly found themselves within a sniff of a victory with 10 minutes to go (38-20).
However, Counties reminded them it wasn’t going to come easily, the visitors banking a four-pointer of their own pushing their lead out to 44-20 with Doyle’s successful conversion securing their spot in the Premiership final to be played at Trust Arena against the Akarana Falcons on 31 October.
With only six points separating the two at half time it was an evenly matched spectacle for most of the first half. However, it was the Vipers that came out of the sheds firing earning themselves an 18-point lead. The Orcas proved difficult to put away as a late surge saw Wellington score back to back tries bringing the deficit back to six. It was the Vipers early dominance that proved the difference as the Orcas’ comeback fell short.
Mid Central Vipers (30)
Try scores: Joshua Fifita, Joshua Kerr, Shae Gray, Sebastian Lomax-Jackson, Sione Sifa
Conversions: Jahlon Governor (6)
Wellington Orcas (24)
Try scorers: Bardley Moafanua, Wyatt So’Otaga, Pelei Moimoi, Bronson Marino.
Conversions: Bronson Marino (4)
The Stallions came out the gate flying putting rapid tries on the board scoring 18 unanswered points in the first forty. The second half however was a complete contrast as it was the Swords who came out firing to mount an unexpected comeback. Kyle Hoole, Tevita Henare-Schuster and Eroni Biutoko showing blistering pace to get back into the game, Levita Levita on form with the boot as he slotted all three conversions to level it up 18-18. Late drama occurred as the Swords were given a penalty close to the line and Levita slotted it over to make it 20-18, but a mistake off the next set saw the Stallions gain valuable field position and James Leavai was able to seal the match for Upper Central.
Upper Central Stallions (22)
Try scores: Te Hanairo Te Tawhero, Joshua Tupou, James Leavai, Dylan Clark
Conversions: Jayden Andrade Kingi
Northern Swords (20)
Try scorers: Eroni Biukotot, Kyle Hool, Tavita Henare-Schuster
Conversions: Levita Levita
Penalty goal: Levita Levita
It was a game of two halves as the Swords dominated early heading into the sheds with the advantage. Yet a second half burst by the hungry Vipers team had the game gridlocked 16 all. It was the Swords that ran away with it scoring two quick tries in the last five minutes and earning themselves their first win of the day.
Northern Swords (26)
Try scores: Eroni Biukoto, Matthew Kahle (2), Michael Salase, Wiremu Te Iringa
Conversions: Levita Levita (3)
Mid Central Vipers (16)
Try scores: Nusipepa Moefili, Joshua Kerr, Joshua Fifita
Conversions: Jahlon Governor (2)
It was an even contest in the first forty but advantage was with the Orcas as they went into the break with a six point lead. The Stallions, who were yet to suffer a loss, mounted their second half comeback scoring first but the Orcas hung on. 14 a piece with five minutes to go it was anyone’s game but it was the Orcas who found their last gear scoring two quick tries and deservedly earning their first win of the Championship, upsetting the top of the table Stallions.
Wellington Orcas (30)
Try scores: Feofaaki Tuangalu, Wyatt So’Otaga (2), Feofaaki Tuangalu, Dallas Mcewa
Conversions: Bronson Marino (2)
Upper Central Stallions (14)
Try scorers: Tupara Tupara, Tautua Taotofi, Anthony Tuoi Kiff
Conversions: Johnson Peri
The Upper Central Stallions dominated in what was a one-sided affair. The nine try to two spectacle kept the Swords out of reach for majority of the game. Makayla Eli scored the Swords two tries but Upper Central fullback Autumn Stephens impressed with a hattrick. Stallions remain undefeated.
Upper Central (42)
Try scorers: Autumn Stephens (3), Leah-Rhys Rangi Toka, Sapphire Tapsell, Anahera Mohi, Roelien Du Plessis, Trisha Tarsau-Hina, Jayde August.
Conversions: Tiria Anderson (2), Sapphire Tapsell
Northern Swords (08)
Try scorers: Makayla Eli (2)
Doubles to Shannon Muru and Keri Ratima helped the Auckland Vulcans secure a 30-14 victory over Wellington. A late first-half surge saw Wellington score back-to-back tries and reduce the deficit to 18-10 at the break. But the Vulcans were too good running away with it seven tries to three.
Auckland Vulcans (30)
Try scorers: Keri Ratima (2), Elizabeth Taka, Shannon Muru (2), Nikita-Danielle Ngarongo-Porima, Shontelle Woodman
Conversions: Jhana Magele
Wellington Orcas (14)
Try scorers: Sherri Burgess, Syntyche Maiava, Hinekura Connor-Phillips
Conversions: Tawny Burgess
It was Upper Central that dominated most of the match with a double to Roelien Du Plessis however the Orcas fought to the death scoring two unanswered tries to finish the game on a high.
Upper Central (22)
Try scorers: Autumn Stephens, Sapphire Tapsell, Roelien Du Plessis (2), Mikayla Kidd
Conversions: Trisha Tarsau-Hina
Wellington Orcas (10)
Try scorers: Tawny Burgess, Lusia Tapusoa
The Vulcans raced out to a 16-4 lead at half-time, with Tauhalaliku later going on to score a record a hat-trick. The spirited Northlanders did hit back late, but the Vulcans were all class, deservedly earning themselves a spot in the National Women’s Championship final.
Auckland Vulcans (40)
Try scorers: Natalee Tagavaitau, Keri Ratima, Lavinia Tauhalalikue (3), Sarah Filimoeatu, Yasmin Puru-Tongia, Jhana Magele.
Conversions: Jhana Magele (2) Kaylarnee Meleisea Murray (2)
Try scorers: Jaylyn Campbell Kamariera, Kaylen Ikitule
Taking on the defending Champions is always a tough task, especially for a team with many first-time league players but the Mid Central Vipers will have plenty to be pleased about posting 14 points against the experienced Stingrays side.
It was a messy start to the game and an error-ridden opening 10 minutes from both teams as they each tried to find their rhythm. Dropped balls and knock-ons prevented any sort of momentum for the Mid Central Vipers as they battled to match the physicality of the stacked Counties forward pack.
Fantastic go-forward from the Stingrays set Harata Butler up to put their first points on the board and it wasn’t long before the powerhouse prop crashed over for her second five minutes later, both converted by Kere Matua (12-0).
Mid Central struggled to get out of their 20 and when they did, the Counties defense proved too strong as they tried their luck with three attempts at the tryline coming out of dummy half.
Vipers half Corrineke Windle looked dangerous on many occasions and looked sure to cause some damage if she found herself in space. However, errors got in the way each time the side were able to get down into Counties territory.
Counties’ third converted try came on the back of a right-side sprint down the wing with Otahuhu Leopards centre Biddle crossing the line to extend their lead to 18-0.
Mid Central’s defense on the line held up well for several of the Stingrays try attempts but the footwork of Amber Kani and a pass to Malianive Taulanga had Counties add to their growing tally once again.
Unfortunately for the Vipers, the dominant Stingrays attack kept coming too with a hat-trick for Harata Butler in the 32ndminute and Matua adding to her near perfect conversion rate, 28-0.
But, just before halftime, Vipers hooker Paris Paul made sure their efforts didn’t go unrewarded narrowing the points gap to 28-6 with a successful conversion before heading into the sheds.
Only seconds into the second half, Butler stormed through a soft defense and it was Mary-Jane Finau who crossed the line for her side, try converted.
A hat-trick wasn’t enough for Harata Butler who minutes later, barged over the line for her fourth try and she didn’t look to be slowing down.
Mid Central’s perseverance was rewarded as they posted their second try of the game with nimble winger Naomi Hunt taking the opportunity out wide to close the gap to 40-10.
The Vipers’ error rate continued to drop as they looked to find some real momentum and it was Paris Paul who capitalised with her second try of the match as her team burst into celebration (40-14).
Although Mid Central’s attack started to find its form, their defense was left lacking and Counties exposed all of their gaps putting Kararaina Wira-Kohu through for another four-pointer.
Harata Butler was on the way to her fifth try of the match but selflessly passed to Taulaga who planted her second try of the day followed by another successful conversion to push the scoreline out to 50-14.
In a try that showed just why the Stingrays have made many appearances in the National competition’s finals, Kararaina Wira-Kohu cruised past the tryline as defenders took the bait being drawn wide in a beautiful shift play from the South Auckland side (56-14).
The defending champions’ 10th and final try came in the last minute of the match on the back of class act Krystal Rota’s kick chase for Marsters to pick up and plant. Counties Manukau sealed the deal with a successful conversion recording a 62-14 victory.
Despite the scoreboard, the Vipers will no doubt take a lot of confidence from the encounter scoring three tries against the powerful Stingrays who will progress to the final against the Akarana Falcons on 31 October at Trust Arena in Waitakere.
Counties will take on Akarana in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership final on October 31st at Trusts Stadium.
17 October 2020
It was a hard day at the office for Canterbury as Akarana ran rampant in a 68-4 victory.
Akarana back-rower Patrick Sipley showed his experience right from the outset stepping through the Canterbury defense to draw first blood posting a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Excellent defense from Akarana and an intercept from Francis Leger put a stop to Canterbury’s many attempts at a four-pointer with their effort simply not translating into points.
The class of Setu Tu had Cole Waaka as the recipient of some outstanding effort on the right wing from Akarana with a simple conversion from Leger sealing the deal on another six points for their side, the score 12-0.
First try-scorer of the day, Sipley’s long stride again looked dangerous but it was Sam Fa’apito on the back end of some smart play from Akarana, scoring to the left of the posts with captain Leger putting his third successful conversion over. Akarana capping off a brilliant first half with a 18-0 lead heading into halftime.
Opening the second half was Chris Smith, the finisher of Preston Riki and Cole Waaka’s right wing run done the sideline. The conversion followed the fashion of Leger’s 100% strike rate too, hitting both posts and the cross bar before making its way over.
Akarana’s fifth try was scored by former Warriors player, Leivaha Pulu adding to his team’s growing try tally and Leger converting to increase Akarana’s lead to 30-0.
Fa’atili showed no lack of fighting power just coming short of an intercept that could have sent Canterbury down the paddock but instead, straight off the scrum, it was Setu Tu coming up with four more points for Akarana.
Canterbury’s defense looked tired as Akarana battered them with attacking prowess and try after try, Akarana cracking 40 points after Leivaha Pulu’s second try of the match and moments later, a 50-point lead ensued after Fa’apito also banked his second. Captain Leger’s boot only added insult to injury kicking nine from eleven kicks at goal.
Just as things were looking grim for the Cantabrians, the energetic Clayton Waikato came out of dummy half to score his side’s first four points in the 56th minute, momentum the South Islanders would have hoped to build on.
However, the visitors continued to find themselves back pedaling and the final 15 minutes proved to be the nail in their coffin.
Patrick Sipley ended the match in the same way he started with a hat-trick to send Canterbury packing, Akarana recording an impressive 68-4 victory.
The Akarana Falcons will play Counties Manukau’s Stingrays in the final of the Men’s Premiership on October 31st at Trusts Stadium Auckland.
Akarana secure a spot in the final with a decisive victory over Canterbury in what was a must-win for the home team.
A knock-on from the kick-off by Canterbury wasn’t the start they were looking for in their final round robin match-up.
Akarana found themselves with a chance to score in the first few minutes and came up successful with Apii Nicholls slicing through the gap to put the first points on the board for the home team, 4-0.
Canterbury look determined to clap back with some great demonstrations of physicality, most notably a tackle by their winger, Olive Tapu dubbed the best tackle of the competition so far.
Woodham-Enosa loses the ball moments before Akarana’s second try looked imminent with Sui Tauasa-Pauaraisa making a try-saving tackle.
Although unsuccessful minutes earlier, Woodham-Enosa pins her ears back and steams down the left wing in a 70-metre try for Akarana’s second try – her team no doubt happy to have her back on the field after she missed their Counties Manukau encounter the previous week (10-0).
Leading 10-0 with two tries on the scoreboard, Akarana looked to have found their shape pushing the ball out wide on several occasions to test Canterbury’s defense.
The home team’s momentum was halted by a break from nippy fullback Michelle Wong but instead of passing to her winger, was wrapped up by Kiwi Fern international Apii Nicholls.
A try from Clementine Varea followed by another from Sharleze White off the back of Fotu-Moala’s fantastic run and a quick play-the-ball, sees Akarana posting a 22-0 lead. And it wasn’t long before the Richmond’s Rowena Meleisea joined the list of try-scorers taking the pass from Nicholls to score on the wing.
Racking up the points at almost a point a minute, Akarana’s Sharleze White scores her second of the match taking the inside line and backing herself to crash through a tiring Canterbury defense.
Not many will argue with the ‘best try of the match’ going to Clementine Varea. She continued her dominant form bumping off four Canterbury players from the restart to score the final try of the first half, converted by Hansen just before the halftime whistle. Akarana run into the sheds leading 36-0.
In the early minutes of the second half, Laishon Albert Jones was hot on attack crashing over the line for the first try of the second half – a try that was closely followed by all-class, Apii Nicholls whose footwork eluded Canterbury’s defense once again.
Despite moments of individual brilliance from the home side, the next four-pointer was a team effort with Woodham-Enosa putting the ball down, Akarana’s combinations proving too strong for the Cantabrians – 50-0.
Minutes later, Hansen was given the chance to convert her own try to push the score out to 56-0.
After Akarana posted their 12th try, Canterbury’s moment of the match came at the hands of Tauasa-Pauaraisa as she planted a well-deserved try putting the South Islanders on the board in the final five minutes of the game.
The Akarana Falcons will play Counties Manukau’s Stingrays in the Women’s Premiership final.
October 17 2020
Your wrap up of the first day of the NZRL Men’s Championship action at Bruce Pulman Park.
Upper Central dominated the first half scoring three unanswered tries yet the second forty saw the Vipers mount their comeback. It was a four point game until a reverse penalty went the way of the Stallions shifting momentum in Upper Central’s favour putting the game out of reach for the Vipers.
Upper Central (30)
Try scores: James Leavai (2), Joshua Tupou, Aritaku Robens, Dylan Clark (2)
Conversions: Jayden Andrade-Kingi (2), Jordan Magee (1)
Mid Central Vipers (10)
Try scorers: Awatere Kiwara, Damien Le-Noel Ngatai
Conversions: Jahlon Governor
Wellington dominated early and were first to mount points but three back to back tries to the Swords had them in front majority of the half. A late try to Orcas’ Winger Pelei Moimoi before the half time siren kept Wellington within a converted try. However it was the Swords that kept their nose in front in the second forty, scoring two unanswered tries and sealing the win 28-12.
Northland Swords (28)
Try scores: Matthew Kahle, Eroni Biukoto, Charme Henry-Turner, Levita Levita, James Witehira.
Conversions: Levita Levita (4)
Wellington Orcas (12)
Try scorers: Pelei Moimoi, Mose Tuifao-Papalii
Your wrap up of the first day of NZRL Women’s Championship action at Bruce Pulman Park.
Upper Central’s forward pack dominated the first half which allowed their backs to pile on points. Honey Hireme-Smiler’s return to football was felt as she continued to open up space for the Stallion’s putting them in good attacking position.
The Auckland Vulcans mastered an impressive second half comeback however it was overshadowed by penalties and errors late in the game. Upper Central earned their first win of the Championship 18 to 14.
Upper Central (18)
Try Scores: Autumn Stephens (2), Kahurina Cassidy, Kate Henwod, Tiria Anderson.
Conversions: Honor Wilson (1)
Auckland Vulcans (14)
Try Scores: Lilieta Maumau, Yasmin Puru-Tongia (2)
Conversions: Jhana Magele (1)
After an even battle throughout the first half with one try a piece it was Wellington who showed their dominance in the second forty. A late intercept try by the Swords wasn’t enough as Wellington took it home four tries to two.
Try scores: Beryl Ena, Sherri Burgess, Teuila Taito, Hinekura Connor-Phillips
Conversions: Tawny Burgess (1)
Northern Swords (12)
Try scorers: Lanaya Morgan, Amanda Nepia
Conversions: Makayla Eli (2)
Both Waikato and the Canterbury Bulls both suffered losses in round one of the National Premiership, but Canterbury came out on top with their first win of the competition.
Within the first few minutes, Canterbury drew first blood scoring their first try off a penalty through Hornby Panthers’ Champ Betham. Waikato were unable to move off their line fast enough to meet the Canterbury offence.
Waikato used their early errors as motivation to keep the pace high which proved a handful for Canterbury. Waikato’s Waka Heke-Sweet caught a perfectly placed kick to answer with a try for the visitors.
Waikato’s momentum slowed off the back of errors across the board. The massive amount of penalties lead to a shift in power, gifting a try to Canterbury’s number 14 Klayton Waikato.
Canterbury continued to capitalise on Waikato’s mistakes with a controversial try scored by Penitito Ilalio on the dead ball line.
A determined Waikato showed they were not to be written off early, scoring an excellent try by Jordan Tai-Rakena in the corner just before the second half. Waikato closing the gap 16 – 10.
Waikato came back from the sheds firing with a crucial try from Darren Kingi to force the score line closer but was immediately answered by Canterbury’s Vincent Paul Scoring 4 points for his team.
New Zealand Resident’s star Ilalio scored an impressive solo try, his second of the match, after busting and stepping his through the Waikato defence to further extend the Bulls lead.
Frustration began to set in for Waikato with a poor pass collected by Canterbury’s Aaron Fiveash. The stolen pass resulted in a 70 meter try by Fiveash after he put his foot on the gas to outrun 3 Waikato defenders and scored a try in the corner.
Tumatouenga Te Koi scored a consolation try for the Waikato team from an excellent outside in play followed by a try by Pawhare Brown with another momentum shift coming too late in the match.
The penalty count and offensive pressure from the Canterbury side told the story of this match. Canterbury advancing to round 3 of the competition with the win over Waikato 36 -24.
Canterbury will face the Akarana Falcons next weekend while Waikato take on the Counties Manukau Stingrays in Hamilton. National Competition matches are all available live on Sky Sport.
11 October 2020
The match kicked off with back to back errors as a cut-out pass by Mid Central went begging over the side-line, Canterbury then gifted possession back to the Vipers with a knock-on at the scrum shortly after.
Mid Central was back in promising field possession which saw hooker Paris Paul score from dummy half jumping through a gap in the Canterbury defence, the score 4 – 0 with five minutes gone.
An impressive run up the middle from Samoan international Sui Tauasa-Pauaraisa put Canterbury in 10 meters of their line. Canterbury was gifted a repeat set off a failed attempt at an intercept by Mid Central which saw Canterbury half Alisha Fonmoa cleverly pounce on her own grubber beating the Vipers defenders to score Canterbury’s first points of the day. The scores were locked 4 all.
A Canterbury mistake from the kick-off then gifted possession straight back to the Vipers which fullback Jashana Tetue Teuawiri capitalised on with a strong barge over the line putting Mid-Central back in front by 4. Another unsuccessful conversion meant the score remains 8 – 4.
A series of back to back errors meant momentum was back with the Vipers as a clever cut out pass by Windle put Viper forward Tui Edwards straight through a defensive gap and over for Mid-Centrals third of the game. Another unsuccessful conversion kept the score at 12 – 4.
Mid Central failed to defuse an impressive Canterbury kick-off which put the home team in good attacking position. Canterbury shifted the ball out to the right edge where Alisha Fonmoa went over for her second after a quick inside step over the line. Canterbury were the first team to complete a conversion bringing them back within two points 12 – 10.
The Vipers were quick to respond to Canterbury’s kick off with an impressive one of their own which Canterbury was unable to defuse in goal putting Mid Central back in good attacking position. However, a mistake at the play ball saw the opportunity go begging for the Vipers.
Back to back to penalties for Canterbury put them in prime position on their line, and a dummy from Canterbury hooker and co-captain Fleur Barker saw her barge over for Canterbury’s third, putting them in front for the first time right before half time.
Both teams head to sheds with three tries each yet goal kicking proved the difference as Canterbury had the edge 14 – 12.
The second half kicked off with some impressive Canterbury defence as they defused a fiery attacking set from the Vipers.
After six tries in the first half, both teams amped up their defence in the second 40 as it took 15 minutes before more points hit the board. Canterbury prop Angela Petero barged over for another four-pointer for Canterbury bringing their lead out to six, 18 – 12.
Mid Central found themselves back in good attacking position and a misread In defence by Canterbury allowed the Vipers a try under the posts, the conversion evened the score once again, 18 apiece with 10 minutes to go.
An unlucky knock-on under the high ball by Canterbury fullback Michelle Wong, saw a fresh attacking set gifted to the Vipers as an easy right edge shift put Vipers Prop Lema Rota through a gap and over for the lead.
Canterbury failed to get out of their own half after some unlucky penalties and Vipers hooker Paris Paul dived over from dummy half to seal the win for Mid Central, 26 – 18.
Canterbury will face Akarana up at Auckland’s Pulman Park next Saturday while Mid Central face reigning champs Counties Manukau the following Sunday. All games are televised live on Sky Sport 4.
10 October 2020
A hard-hitting second round saw reigning champions Akarana fail to win it at the death, drawing 12-12 with a determined Counties-Manukau side.
A scrappy affair, both teams started shakily unable to control the ball as the two sides got themselves into the game.
Unable to convert field possession into points, Counties continued to win the grind with Patrick Sipley unable to control the ball in his own 20. Again the Akarana defence standing firm.
Akarana Centre Francis Leger broke the deadlock 10 minutes in after Mathew Tuitama hung in a tackle to offload to his captain for the first points of the afternoon. 6-0 to Akarana after Leger converts.
It continued to be an error-ridden grind as both teams gave the ball away. A tough contest around the ruck saw Counties roll down the field; however they were unable to put pressure into points.
Akarana off an ensuing scrum in on their own 10-metre line marched down the field and ended their set in a sharp set play that saw winger Sam Fa’apito stroll over. Leger again converted to make it 12-0 after swinging momentum back into Akarana’s favour.
Again Counties continued to roll on and gain good field position and finally got off the mark when substitute Donny Tuivai-Lopa crashed over for their first of the evening. Drew Radich slotted his over from right in front to bridge the gap, 12-6 going into the break.
Points went begging as Ray Tuimalo-Vaega with only grass in front of him was unable to control the ball, 10 minutes into the second half action.
The Falcons gave away another penalty on their own line and off that, front row Connor Taurua-Purcell stormed over the line to reduce the deficit. Drew Radich makes it even 12-12 after 52 minutes.
Akarana’s penalties kept Counties in the game and on the back foot. Then a line break from Sam Fa’apito in his own 20 reduced pressure on Akarana and earns the Falcons a penalty. However, the first tackle saw them lose possession.
A grind-it-out second half had both teams locked in the battle and with 25 minutes left to go the scores remained 12-12. Going into the final 10 both sides had opportunities on the opposition goal lines but defence remained firm.
A crucial Counties mistake with three minutes to go gave Akarana a chance to win but stout defence by the Stingrays kept the Falcons at bay. Off the ensuing set, a frantic scramble lead to Akarana breaking through taking out the referee in the process, Sipley only inches from the line as the full-time hooter sounded ending 12-12.
Counties keep Akarana at bay drawing with the reigning champions. Akarana will face Canterbury next Saturday while the Stingrays come up against Waikato at FMG Stadium.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport.
October 10 2020
A promising matchup between the two powerhouse women’s teams began strongly, as some stiff Counties defence saw Akarana camped in their half for the opening set.
Counties capitalised on the momentum to cross over on their first set, an overlap on the left edge saw the ball move to winger Alexis Thompson who went over with ease. The conversion was missed to open the scoring early on at 4 – 0.
Akarana’s kick-off soared for a ten-and-out, the Falcons were in prime territory to even up the score, a wayward final option kick saw Counties let off the hook.
Counties looked strong early spreading the ball at every available opportunity and making up for errors with tough defence. Much of the early section of the game was spent deep in Akarana territory, even as Akarana right-winger Katelyn Vaha’akolo was given space down the edge she was stopped soundly by fullback Amber Kani.
The Stringray’s took control of the first half with speedy play the balls contributing to lengthy metres gained on offensive sets. Despite early dominance, the score remained at 4 – 0 with 15 minutes left in the first half.
Counties captain and experienced Kiwi Fern, Krystal Rota looked especially potent with strong runs from dummy half which saw Counties repeatedly find space.
The Stingray’s doubled their lead late in the first half through Jonsal Tautari as she crashed over from close range. The try converted by Kere Mautua which brought their lead to 10 – 0.
Momentum was undoubtedly behind the South Aucklanders as in the ensuing set they marched up the field to score, this time on the right as a nifty backline move saw lock Christyl Stowers increase the lead to 14.
As the halftime hooter sounded Counties Manukau halfback Jonsal Tautari spotted space in behind Akarana’s defensive line and a left grubber kick saw her chase and touch the ball down for her second of the day. A successful conversion meant Counties’ lead was increased to 20 as they took to the sheds.
It was Akarana’s turn to start the half off strong as the kick-off was carried by the wind to allow them to regather the ball in great field position. Kiwi Ferns fullback Apii Nicholls needed only the smallest of gaps to post Akarana’s first points of the day. The score was 20 – 4 early in the second.
Akarana were unable to build on their momentum as mistakes in their half proved costly, Counties used their extended period with the ball in hand to cross over through a great solo effort by fullback Amber Kani, leaving the score at 24 – 4.
Mistakes were proving to be the story of the game as this time it was Counties with the error in their half leading to Akarana’s Clementine Varea crossing over to narrow Counties lead. The conversion made the score 24 – 10.
Yet again, a mistake early in the set led to a try, this time Akarana making a mess of a quick tap to gift Counties great field position allowing them to cross over on the left-hand edge. Geneva Webber this time increased Counties lead.
A great run from Counties captain and hooker Krystal Rota from inside her own half gave the Stingrays promising field position to poise their next attack. Krystal rewarded herself for her efforts by darting over for her first try of the day. The conversion was successful to bring the lead to 34 – 10 with 5 minutes remaining.
Counties Manukau finished off a strong performance with a great defensive set refusing to allow Akarana any extra points before full-time.
With little time remaining Counties Manukau took the ball 100m to cross over once again this time Maitua Feterika finding the chalk ending the game at 40 – 10.
Counties with an impressive showing against a talented Akarana Falcons team, dominating field position and capitalising on the opportunities awarded to them.
Akarana look to bounce back next week against Canterbury, while Counties Manukau attempt to go through the round robin undefeated against Mid Central.
All games televised live on Sky Sport 4.
An aggressive opening set from Waikato ended in disarray as Akarana capitalised on their over-energy to steal a try; right centre Cole Waaka took an intercept in the Waikato half to race away for the opener, converted by Captain Francis Leger.
In the ninth minute, Akarana’s lead was doubled as fullback Matiu Stone-Dunn received a fifth tackle kick from his own half and proceeded to make space down the sideline finding support inside from halfback Jordan Te Aho to dot down under the posts then converted by Francis Leger.
A mistake from Akarana after the kick-off gave Waikato prime opportunity to get back into the game however, a mistake let the Falcons off the hook score remains 12 – 0.
In the 15th minute a sweet backline move from Akarana opened up space down the left flank from inside the red zone that allowed Sam Fa’apito to add to the growing score. The conversion was missed to leave the score at 16 – 0.
Akarana’s lead was increased to 22 as Jordan Te Aho re-paid fullback Matiu Stone-Dunn for his previous efforts as a nifty inside ball from the halfback placed him in a gaping hole down the middle of the park.
Midway through the half Waikato were gifted repeat sets in the Akarana red zone after multiple infringements, however, some great goal line defence from the Falcons saw them avoid giving up any points.
In the ensuing set Akarana stormed up the field opening up the Waikato defence, taking it 100m for Apirana Pewhairangi to cross for his first of the day bringing the score to 28 – 0.
Again, Waikato unfortunately failed to complete in their own half gifting the second intercept try of the game to Akarana right winger, Raymon-Ramoni Tuimalo Vaega
In the 36th minute substitute hooker Josiah Afu diced up Waikato through the middle eventually finding former Warrior and Titan Leivaha Pulu as Akarana increased their lead to 38.
A clinical first half from the Falcons saw them head to the sheds up 38 – nil on their fellow North Island counterparts.
Waikato began the second half impressively with their third forced drop out from a kick-off but history repeated itself as they once again failed to capitalise on prime attacking position.
After multiple repeat sets on the Akarana goal line Waikato finally found daylight as Waka Heke Sweet was placed in a divine hole by Waikato half Mikaere Beattie who then converted the try to bring the score to 38 – 6.
An Akarana dropped ball deep in Waikato territory was picked up by Tumatauenga Te Koi to speed down the field only to be caught short of the line by the Falcons cover defence. Waikato attacked the line earning themselves multiple repeat sets to only gift Akarana with their third intercept of the game.
Akarana then took the ball up the field completed with a great try down the right edge with Fa’apito, Leger, and Matti combining to send the captain over, increasing their lead.
In the next set after kick-off a short kick was mishandled by Waikato gifting Akarana a scrum on the halfway line, in the next play left winger Sam Fa’apito was then given just too much space down the left edge allowing him to scream away for a long range try. Leger unable to covert leaving the score at 48 – 6 with just under 20 minutes to play.
Waikato once again let great field position slip through their hands. After giving away a seven-tackle set Akarana capitalised on the depleted energy of Waikato taking the tap quickly and sending right winger Raymon-Ramoni Tuimalo Vaega on an 80m dart through the middle to score under the posts, further increasing the lead to 54 – 6.
A Waikato chip and chase inside the Akarana half backfired as the Falcons’ Fa’apito tok the chip, beat four defenders to end up in space in the middle of the field. He was caught by some great cover defence however on the next play there was too much space and fullback Matiu Stone-Dunn was given the ball down the right edge to cross over for his second.
Raymon-Ramoni Tuimalo Vaega completed his hat-trick in the 77th minute as he was gifted a try from second-rower Patrick Sipley.
The two Akarana props combine after Michael Ki broke the line in the Waikato half then offloaded to Chase Bernard to cross over under the sticks.
This brought the final score to 70 – 6 as Akarana ran away with the game to defeat Waikato.
Akarana will look towards next weekend as they take on fellow Auckland rivals Counties Manukau in what will sure be an exciting fixture, Waikato come up against a team in a similar position to them in Canterbury as they look to bounce back from this defeat.
The Akarana Falcons kicked off their start to the inaugural Sky Sport National Women’s Premiership at Bruce Pulman Park against the Mid-Central Vipers with a clinical display on attack.
A game not short of aggression and effort started off as a scrappy affair. Few mistakes by both teams eventually led to the first chance for Akarana. A mistake by Mid-Central fullback Jasmine Te Uawiri led to a scrum and winger Katelyn Vaha’akolo came painstakingly close to score falling short of the line after a sharp set play.
An 8th-minute late penalty in the set gave Akarana an opportunity in the red zone and Karli Hansen received an offload to crash over. Hansen failed to convert her try from out wide.
Four minutes later, fullback Apii Nichols went over to double the advantage. The score remained 8-0.
Mid-central found some momentum and rolled on down the field. A penalty and an Akarana knock-on put them in good attacking position for three more sets, unfortunately unable to convert the pressure into points. On the ensuing set, Akarana went the length of the field and after an offload from Hansen, Meleoata Toki went 30 metres to score. Apii Nichols assumed the goal kicking duties but hit the left upright. 12-0 Akarana in the 19th minute.
More dominance from the Falcons led to a Holly Wade try coming from a sweet ball from Nichols who started to put her footprint on the game. Apii converts to put Akarana up 18-0 in the 25th minute.
Clementine Varea then bulldozed her way to score under the post and five minutes later Akarana halfback put Warriors centre Jules Newman into a gaping hole for her to score. Nichols converts both tries taking the Falcons into the break with a 30 point lead.
Akarana continued their dominance in the second half as Katelyn Va’ahakolo grabbed her second in the 38th minute, going 70 metres to score under the post. Nichols converts to take the lead to 36-0.
A set on the Akarana line finally bore fruit for the Vipers as Mid-Central half Corrineke Windle’s grubber kick came off Jules Newman and she regathered to score Mid-Centrals first points. Windle missed her conversion to keep the score at 36-4. A few minutes later, Vipers winger Awhina Kingi unfortunately couldn’t maintain possession as a try went begging for the Vipers.
Apii Nichols then made them pay to recover a bomb that was allowed to bounce by the Vipers and took it under the post. Nichols failed to convert the conversion as the wind blew the ball off the tee, 40-4
Nichols continued her impressive display as she set up Meleoata Toki with a clinical cut out ball, excellent underline from Toki took out he defender as she scored on the right edge. Three minutes later Charlotte Scanlan’s line break created space for Jules Newman as she scored on the left edge sealing the game. Both conversions were unsuccessful.
Mid-Central went over in for a consolation with two minutes remaining, as captain Mahalia Polson crashed over for a great try in similar vain to Meleoata Toki, the Vipers bring the score to 48-8.
Akarana will face Counties Manukau at 2:05pm next Saturday at Pulman while Mid-Central take on Canterbury down at Nga-Puna-Wai Sunday 11th at 12:05pm. All games will be televised live on Sky Sport 4.
Nga-Puna-Wai Sports Hub hosted the first round of the NZRL Men’s Premiership for 2020 between the 2019 runners up, Canterbury Bulls and the Counties Manukau Stingrays.
Bulls’ winger Nicholas Evans opened the game with a try in the corner for Canterbury off a clever grubber from halfback Zach Riley; a successful conversion attempt made it 6 – 0 with six minutes gone.
Counties were quick to answer back with an overlap on the left edge as winger Semisi Sikei opened the scoring for the Stingrays, an unsuccessful conversion kept the Bulls ahead by two.
Counties fullback and veteran William Stowers showed his skill and pace stepping around the defensive line to gift the Stingrays their second try, back to back tries for Counties and a successful conversion put Counties in the lead 10 – 6.
Counties remained on the front foot with good metres through the middle until momentum shifted when they failed to find touch. The Bulls capitalised on attack as centre Vincent Paul jumped on a loose ball crossing over for Canterbury’s second. A successful conversion put the Bulls back in front by two.
An impressive run down the edge from Bulls’ winger Penitito Ilalio put Canterbury in great attacking position, however, the Bulls were unable to capitalise. The Stingrays quickly hit back and a misread in defence gifted an easy try to Counties five-eighth, Samuel Nati.
Drew Radich added the two extending Counties lead to four making it 16 – 12 heading into the sheds.
Former Warriors NSW cup player Emeliano Mikaele opened the second half for Counties barging over for the Stingray’s fourth. Radich provided the extra two extending Counties lead to 10.
Samuel Nati then showed his individual brilliance with an impressive run off a mid-field scrum going over for Counties’ fifth and his second for the day. Back to back tries and another conversion from Radich made it 28 – 12 at the 50-minute mark.
Three penalties in a row and Ill-discipline from Counties put the Bulls back in good attacking position; halfback Zach Riley impressively caught his own kick gifting Canterbury a much needed four points and bringing it back to a 10-point game.
Handling errors from the Bulls saw opportunities go astray and the Stingrays wasted no time in answering back.
Counties winger Dredin McGee scored in the right edge corner for the Stingrays making it 32 – 18 with ten to go. The Stingrays’ speed in attack proved too much for the Bulls as Richard Holani and Wesley Tauti scored back to back four pointers sealing the win for the Counties Manukau Stingrays, 42 -18.
Counties will face reigning champions Akarana next Saturday at Pulman Park while the Bulls take on Waikato at Nga-Puna-Wai. All games are televised live on Sky Sport 4.
The National Premiership kicks off this weekend and for the first time will run alongside the Sky Sports NZRL National Women’s Tournament. Before the action begins, take a look at some exciting talent to keep your eye on when they take the field this weekend.
The Canterbury Bulls have seven rookies all under 21 preparing for their Premiership debut. The promising young players have worked through the South Island Scorpions Youth setup to finally reach pinnacle representative rugby league for their zone. Some of these boys include Sincere Harraway, Chanel Feala, Klayton Waikato alongside Caius Fa’atili who returns from Queensland due to COVID-19. The former NZ 16s and current 18s Representative Fa’atili is no stranger to New Zealand Rugby League, representing St Thomas, Hornby Panthers and made his debut as one of the youngest players in the competition in 2019 at 17 years old Fa’atili was a difference-maker for the Bulls during the 2019 national campaign.
Andrew Auimatagi has also selected Betham Champ, Nicholas Evans, Puia’I Patu-Vaega’au and Zac Riley as part of his 23-man squad.
The Bulls will have a new half combination from the previous two seasons, with 2019 New Zealand Resident players Brad Campbell having moved to Australia and Tevin Arona out injured.
New Zealand Resident 16s Head Coach Phil Gordon takes the reins from long standing Keith Hanley to Coach Akarana.
Setu Tu scored 15 tries out of 15 appearances in 2019 for Warriors New South Wales Cup team.
2019 New Zealand Resident
Eiden Akland joins Francis Ledger who topped the Premiership scoring table in 2019 with 38 points.
A raft of experience joins the team this year, players having been through the 20s NRL programmes or State Cup competitions in Australia. Most recently Preston Riki with 47 games for the Warriors at 20s and NSW Cup level. Isiah Vagana has 18 games under his belt for the Warriors 20s. Cole Waaka, Bostyn Hakaraia, Eiden Akland, Caleb Uele, Raymon-Ramoni Tuaimalo Vaega and Kalani Peahairangi-Charlie all with a mix of NRL 20s and NSW Cup experience.
Apirana Pewhairangi who moved back to New Zealand in 2019 from the English club London Broncos. Apirana made his professional debut in 2013 for Parramatta Eels and went on to gain international honours for Ireland earning 5 caps and went to compete in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Tumatauenga Te Koi at only 18 years old this year scored a hat-trick in Waikato Rugby League Grand Final playing for Turangawaewae. Turangawaewae went on to beat Taniwaharau 20 – 10.
Mikaere Beattie is expected to bring his experience playing for North Devils and Ipswich Jets in the Queensland competitions. He has returned to the Waikato team having played his 2019 season in Auckland.
Keanu Dawson a Backrow/Prop who has represented the NZ 18s as captain and has played under the New Zealand Maori Rugby League as well as reserve grade for NZ Warriors and 20s and for Titans in Australia.
Alfred Smalley will bring his experience from the NSW Cup and 20s with Manly Sea Eagles to the Stingrays.
Connor Purcell came off a solid 2019 season representing the NZMRL and NZ Residents against the English Community Rugby League Lions.
All National Premiership and Sky Sport NZRL National Women’s Tournament matches will be live on Sky Sport throughout October.
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the NZRL National Competitions are back for 2020 and bigger than ever before with the inclusion of the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL National Women’s Premiership.
Thanks to the support of the NZ Government and Sport NZ, the NZRL Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership competitions will kick off October 3 and proceed over four weeks with both finals expected to take place the last weekend of October. Thanks to Sky Sport, all Premiership fixtures will be televised live on Sky Sport 4.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters said this is an exciting milestone for New Zealand’s grassroots game.
“Firstly, thank you to Sport NZ and the NZ Government, as the return of our National Competitions for 2020 would not have been possible without their significant support through COVID-19.
“Seeing the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL Women’s Premiership come to light on top of this is also a momentous achievement for our game.
“Previously, the women’s competition has been held as a tournament weekend, so having a four-week Premiership parallel to the men’s competition is an exciting milestone. This reflects the positive growth we are seeing in our women’s space, and with all fixtures being televised live on Sky Sport, this will only continue.
“Thank you to Martin Stewart and the team at Sky Sport for their ongoing and invaluable support. We look forward to seeing the best of our grassroots talent on display come October.”
Martin Stewart Sky CEO says, “Sky has a firm commitment to promoting and developing women’s sport at every level in New Zealand. We are delighted our skilled and passionate team is able to bring the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership to rugby league fans throughout New Zealand. We are so looking forward to seeing the athleticism and skills of our leading players live on Sky Sport and streamed on Sky Sport Now.”
The NZRL Championship competition, which is a tier below the premiership, will for the first time also feature a women’s draw. Both North Island Men’s and Women’s Championship competitions will take place between the 17th and 18th of October at Auckland’s Pulman Park with the finals expected to be played the same weekend as the Premiership finals.
The South Island Championship will take place over Labour Weekend in Timaru to which the South Island Champion will come up to Auckland to play the North Island Champion on the Premiership finals weekend.
NZRL will release further information regarding the Premiership and Championship finals fixtures in due course.
Please see below the 2020 Premiership and Championship draws (subject to change)
Due to the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to advise that all NZRL run representative competitions and tournaments have been called off for the remainder of the year.
Community and Club competitions and trainings are still currently postponed until May 2 with that date to be reviewed in due course.
Due to the current uncertain revenue lines, these representative competitions would place too big of a financial burden on the Zones. International rugby league has also been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and NZRL has ceased all non-essential expenditure.
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, “We are extremely disappointed that these competitions will not happen in 2020, but unfortunately, it was a decision that had to be made for the financial longevity of our game.
“Due to the extensive consequences of this pandemic across the code, we have had to make some significant short term sacrifices in order to see the game thrive long after this virus is contained.
“The impact and influence rugby league has is felt widespread both on and off the field. Although unprecedented, this decision was made fully with the longevity of our game in mind and the important role it plays within our communities.”
NZRL will provide a further update on club and community competitions in due course. Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, the focus will be on getting the grassroots game operating as quickly as possible.
Written by Tony Smith for Stuff.co.nz
The Canterbury Bulls are buzzing ahead of the greatest challenge of their careers against a Samoa national team brimming with NRL stars such as Manly’s ex-Kiwis prop Marty Taupau.
Toa Samoa plays the Bulls at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai stadium on Friday night in a warm-up to their Oceania Cup clash with Fiji at Eden Park.
Canterbury coach Andrew Auimatagi said it would be the biggest game most of the Bulls would play and was particularly exciting for nine Bulls players “and myself” with Samoan heritage.
Bulls centre Matt Sauni, who was born in Christchurch but grew up embracing his Samoan culture, can’t wait to get a chance to tackle a team containing Taupau and other NRL regulars such as Canberra Raiders grand final centre Joey Leilua, Dragons centre Tim Lafai, Manly wing Jorge Taufua, Warriors prop Bunty Afoa and New Zealand-born Newcastle Knights Danny Levi and James Gavet.
“It’s really good to play against a team that you’ve always wanted to play for, but there will definitely be mixed emotions,” Sauni said.
“They will definitely test us out, mentally and physically.
Many visiting players were in the Samoa squad which made the semifinals at last weekend’s World Cup Nines tournament in Sydney.
Sauni said it was an honour to play against a team “stacked with NRL players”.
The 28-year-old is joined in the Bulls squad by his brother Erwin, with brothers Jiordan and Thoren Fidow-Kele, Danny Latu, Caius Fa’atali, Ben Ilalio, Roger Tafua and Alani Kakoi other players with Samoan heritage.
Fa’atali, a Year 13 student at St Thomas of Canterbury College got a chance to see Taupau and some of teammates first-hand on Thursday morning when a Toa Samoa contingent visited his school, where coach Auimatagi teaches.
“It’s really special just to have the Samoan players in Christchurch,” Auimatagi said.
“Like I said to our boys, ‘they are probably the first Samoan rugby or league team to play in Christchurch, so you are part of history’.
“Our families are all very proud.”
The Bulls lost the national provincial premiership grand final after finishing the round robin with three wins to earn a home final, and they also beat a touring New South Wales Country team 17-16 after a late field goal by loose forward Michael Butson.
Auimatagi has total faith in the character of his team, but admits it will be a step up against a Samoan side comprising fulltime professionals.
“It’s just the fact it’s their job and their bodies are well used to the physical demands [of the NRL]. Rugby league is a simple game, but they are just used to playing at a higher intensity.
“Our guys need to do their best and do the simple things well and try and stay with them and maybe surprise them a few times.”
While the odds are heavily weighted in favour of Samoa, Auimatagi said the Bulls could draw inspiration from one of their own. Canterbury co-captain Tevin Arona was part of a Cook Islands team which upset Tonga at last weekend’s World Cup Nines.
Auimatagi has also reminded his players that “Lebanon beat England, so it cn be done”.
Arona was “pretty banged up” with a sore shoulder after the Nines tournament and may have to be managed carefully against Samoa. He is one of six Bulls in the New Zealand Residents team, coached by Auimatagi, which will play an England XIII in Auckland next Friday.
The Samoan team are coached by former NRL players Matt Parish and Geoff Toovey.
Canterbury Rugby League chief executive Duane Fyfe said Samoa were the first international team to play Canterbury for 15 years, since Russia in 2004.
“A South Island selection played France a few years before that.”
Canterbury has had success against international teams in the past, beating France 24-12 in 1955 and Great Britain 18-10 in 1990.
AT A GLANCE
Canterbury Bulls v Toa Samoa
When: 7.30pm, Friday
Where: Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch.
CANTERBURY BULLS: Jordan Coleman, Ben Ilalio, Matt Sauni, Jope Tagicakibau, Regan Stanton, Tevin Arona (co-capt), Brad Campbell, Alex Todd (co-capt), Alani Kakoi, Jiordan Fidow-Kele, Danny Latu, Caius Fa’atili, Michael Butson. Interchange (from): Justin Lynch, Thoren Fidow-Kele, David Tongo Tongo, James Baxendale, Vinnie Paul, Erwin Sauni, Roger Tafua, Rangi Thompson. Coaches: Andrew Auimatagi, Jed Lawrie, Jamie Lester.
TOA SAMOA: Tim Lafai, Joey Leilua, Jorge Taufua, Brian Too, Jarome Luai, Danny Levi, Lalotoa Mata’afa, Marion Seve, Junior Paulo, Dunamis Lui, Marty Taupau, Moses Leota Luciano Leilua, James Gavet, Bunty Afoa, Michael Chee Kam, Ligi Sao. Coaches: Matt Parish, Geoff Toovey. Coaches: Matt Parish and Geoff Toovey.
It was a dominant display across the park for Akarana in what was a must-win game for the reigning premiers to kick off round three of the NZRL Premiership.
Hooker Josiah Afu opened the scoring for the Falcons in the 11th minute, Chase Bernard’s 40 meter run from the kick-off set up Akarana’s second try to Jordan Te Aho. Back to back tries soon followed to Hoani Rogers-Brown and Solomon Vasuvulagi quickly making it 24 – 0.
Some possession to the home side saw Captain Pawhare Brown put Waikato on the board after a strong run through the middle, however, handling errors had the home side under the pump again as Siliga Kepaoa powered over for Akarana’s fifth try. Quickplay the balls from the Falcon’s forward pack put skipper Francis Leger over the line to make it 36 – 6 at the break.
The second half kicked off with a runaway try to Akarana winger Sam Fa’apito after a one on one strip, yet some possession to the home side saw Waikato gain momentum resulting in back to back tries making it 40 -18.
The momentum was short-lived as Akarana kicked into gear with tries to Chase Bernard and Matti Tuitama. Sam Fa’apito went over for his second making it 56 – 18 before David Dyer ran away with an intercept. Darren Kellett-Moore finished the scoring off for Akarana making it 66 – 18 at full time.
Day two of round three saw the Canterbury Bulls and Counties Manukau Stingrays play for a spot in the finals against the Akarana Falcons.
Canterbury will be happy campers coming away with the win 24-22 after tough back and forth contest. There was nothing between these teams, both heading to the tunnels at half time without a single point on the board.
First points came after a fiery start to the second half. The 44th minute saw Counties number 18 Richard Toa’i, finally break the Canterbury defence off the back of a penalty only a few meters from the try line. Counties followed up within minutes, James Dowie scoring in the corner.
The hosts weren’t giving up easily, biting back as they put their first points on the board. The try from Penetito Ilalio would close the gap. Pressure on Counties and frustrations building the 56th minute saw Counties Netane Vi, yellow carded for foul play. Counties then conceded twelve points within ten minutes.
With a full team back on the field, Counties Manukau stormed back to take the lead after two converted tries, leading with only five minutes left to play. Finals were on the line and Canterbury knew it, they would bravely strike back with a last minute try to close the match off 24-22
The Cantabrians send a strong message to their opposition that they mean business in 2019 as they seek to take away Akarana’s long term claim to the Premiership title.
Congratulations also to Wellington Orcas and Otago Whalers who will contest the Championship Final at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch, prior to the Premiership Final.
NZRL Premiership final – Canterbury Bulls v Akarana Falcons 3pm
October 5th Nga Puna Wai Stadium in Christchurch
Live on Sky Sport
The Canterbury Bulls’ caused an upset win over reigning premiers, Akarana Falcons, coming away with a 28 – 18 victory, showing they’re one to watch in this year’s competition.
Co-captain Tevin Arona scored a hat-trick and scrumhalf Brad Campbell and loose forward Michael Butson also had standout games. Canterbury’s 17-year-old second rower, Caius Fa’atili, impressed on the day with pace and a dominant defensive performance.
Eiden Ackland opened the scoring for Akarana early in the game which was soon followed by an impressive long-range intercept try as Akarana’s, Simon Luafaleao ran almost 80 metres to score.
The Bulls rebounded from a 12-0 deficit to score 26 unanswered points against Akarana, despite being without two of their team leaders, captain James Baxendale and Rulon Nutira.
The Bulls unleashed four tries in the second half, after some impressive approach play by Fa’atili, Ilalio and Danny Latu.
Game one saw the Counties Manukau Stingrays score 11 tries to beat Waikato 62-16. Counties were dominant across the park with Prop Connor Taurua-Purcell grabbing a hat-trick for the Stingrays with second-rower Nicholas Halalilo and wing Geronimo Doyle both scoring twice.
At a glance:
Canterbury Bulls 28 (Tevin Arona 3, Ben Ilalio, Justin Lynch, Regan Stanton tries; Caius Fa’atalii 2 goals) Akarana Falcons 18 (Eiden Ackland, Simon Luafaleao, Sam Fa’apito tries; Francis Leger 3 goals).
Counties Manukau Stingrays 62 (Connor Purcell 3, Nicholas Halalilo 2, Geronimo Doyle 2, Erin-Wayne Clark, Junior Tukinga, James Dowie, Richard Holani tries; Drew Radich 9 goals) Waikato 16 (Pawhare Brown, Duane Sykes, Caleb McLean tries; Hayden Karena 2 goals).
Click here to keep up with the Premiership draw and all results.
Click to here to keep up with the North Island Championship results
Round 2 NZRL National Premiership – Sunday 22nd September
Waikato v Canterbury Bulls – 1pm, FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Akarana Falcons v Counties Manukau Stingrays – 3pm, Pulman Park Auckland
All NZRL Premiership matches will be televised on SKY Sport 4.
New Zealand Rugby League’s Premiership competition for 2019 kicks off this Saturday 14th of September at Pulman Park, Auckland, with Counties Manukau taking on Waikato at 1:00pm followed by Akarana taking on Canterbury at 3:00pm.
Click here to keep up with the Premiership draw and all results.
Click to here to keep up with the North Island Championship results
Click here to keep up with the South Island Championship results
Keep up with all the action from NZRL’s competitions below:
2019 National Premiership draw
2019 National Premiership results
2019 North Island Championship draw
2019 North Island Championship results
2019 South Island Championship draw
2019 South Island Championship results
The Winner of the South Island Championship will play the winner of the North Island Championship in a curtain-raiser match ahead of the 2019 NZRL Provincial Premiership Final on Saturday October 5th at Pulman Park, Auckland.
Disclaimer – results are not always loaded in real-time.
Akarana win back-to-back National Premiership titles with a convincing 51-20 win over the Counties Manukau Stingrays.
Counties Manukau Stingrays Coach Spencer Taplin would have been a happy man watching his side score off the first set. They may have beat Akarana in round two 32-22 but Akarana boasted defending champion status heading into the grand final.
However, a try and a conversion minutes later to the Akarana side put them out in front 6-4 thanks to a successful conversion. Akarana backed that up with another try soon after but this time, were unsuccessful with the boot.
Akarana birthday boy, James Taumata then chimed in with a try of his own which captain Francis Leger successfully converted, score 16-4. Dylan Tavita added to the try-fest and again, that was converted by Leger.
Then came David Bhana crashing through the middle under the posts to extend Akarana’s lead to 28-4 followed by another Leger two pointer.
The answer to Counties’ prayers came when winger Emiliano Mikaele crossed off the back of a classy run through the right edge of Akarana, the two points coming from half Drew Radich with the scoreboard reading 28-10.
The South Aucklanders looked poised for their third try moments later but were caught in a double movement as Halalilo went to score.
An Akarana drop goal from Dylan Tavita sealed the first half in what was a very smart end to the first 40 minutes, the halftime score reaching 29-10 in favour of Akarana.
Straight out of the sheds and it was Akarana at it again with the birthday boy James Taumata crossing for his second try, their lead stretching to 35-10. Counties replied shortly after with another try from Halalilo, score 35-14.
Counties came up short several times on the cusp of getting across the chalk but as soon as Akarana got the ball, captain Francis Leger was in.
It seemed to be a game of seesaw, as sure enough, Counties piped up with a try for themselves closing in on Akarana, 39-20 with 15 minutes to go.
But just as Counties came to the party, Dylan Tavita scored another for Akarana off the back of several counties mistakes where the ball bounced just in time for Akarana to pounce, a successful conversion sending Akarana out in front by 15 points with five minutes to go on the clock.
Five minutes proved to be plenty of time for Akarana to go again with Kitiona Pasene scoring right in the middle of the posts, successfully converted to end with a final score of 51-20 to win back-to-back National Premiership titles.
Waikato also maintain their position in the National Premiership after beating Northland 48-18.
Akarana 51 Counties 20
Waikato 48 Northland 18
New Zealand Residents paper team:
Geronimo Doyle COUNTIES
Setu Tu COUNTIES
Chaz Brown AKARANA
Edward Kosi COUNTIES
Ben Ilalio CANTERBURY
Drew Radich COUNTIES
Francis Leger AKARANA
Rulon Nutira CANTERBURY
Sioeli Makaui AKARANA
Salafulauli Falelua-Malio AKARANA
Matti Tuitama AKARANA
Daniel Reulu-Buchanan AKARANA
James Baxendale CANTERBURY
William Stowers COUNTIES
Connor Purcell COUNTIES
Kouma Samson AKARANA
Rahiri Witehira COUNTIES
This afternoon, defending National Premiership champions Akarana will take on Counties in the 2018 National Premiership Final at 4pm at Mt Smart.
Northland will also challenge Waikato in the promotion/relegation game at 2pm in the curtain-raiser to the grand-final.
Grand final teams below:
Promotion/relegation teams below:
Finals fixtures tonight:
National Premiership Grand Final
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
4pm, 6 October
Akarana v Counties
2pm, 6 October
The Canterbury Bulls may have had the best start to the National Premiership winning two from three games, but a 34-14 loss to the reigning Champions Akarana in round four has bumped the Bulls out of grand final contention.
Counties Manukau will take on Akarana in a rematch of the 2016 Premiership final on 6 October following the promotion and relegation deciding game. Although Akarana are defending champions, round three’s result between the two Auckland sides (36-22) had Counties come out on top which should make for a highly contested grand final showdown.
The National Championship went down to the wire with a 26-all round three result between the Otago Whalers and Northern Swords, but it didn’t end there. Otago and Northern battled it out for a chance to challenge the fourth place National Premiership team in a promotion and relegation game that, if won by the challenger, would see them move up into the National Premiership for the 2018 season.
Not even points differential could separate the Northern and Otago sides resulting in the Northern Swords going through to the match of their lives on point percentage.
Akarana 34 Canterbury 14
Waikato 22 Counties 46
Otago 26 Northern 26
Finals fixtures next week
The top dogs Akarana were knocked off their perch by Counties on the weekend in a 32-22 rough and tumble match.
After getting their first game jitters out of the way, the Stingrays have shown they’re a force to be reckoned with forcing the Falcons to accumulate a staggering penalty count over the 80 minute encounter.
Akarana will take on Canterbury next week who have picked up two wins in as many weeks, beating Waikato convincingly 52-6.
However, the game of the weekend would have to have been Otago’s two point win over Wellington (38-36).
All teams will be looking to put their best foot forward for this weekend ahead of next week’s grand-final on Saturday, 6 October.
Counties 36 Akarana 22
Canterbury 52 Waikato 6
Otago 38 Wellington 36
Fixtures this weekend:
Canterbury v Akarana
2pm, Saturday 29 September
AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Waikato v Counties
4pm, Sunday 30 September
FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Otago v Northern
4.15pm, Saturday 29 September
Northern Ground, Dunedin
It’s round two of the National Competition this Saturday with Wellington taking on Otago in the National Championship, Akarana face off against old foes Counties and Waikato head down south for their Canterbury match-up.
Team lists for this weekend (as of Friday) are below:
Canterbury v Waikato
2pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Akarana v Counties Manukau
Mt Smart Stadium 2
4pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Wellington v Otago
2pm, Saturday, 22 September 17, 2018
Petone Recreation Ground, Wellington
The Canterbury Bulls and Akarana Falcons will be happy campers both coming away with the win after the first round of the National Premiership.
In a hotly contested match-up, the Cantabrians sent a strong message to their opposition that they mean business in 2018 taking home a narrow 20-18 win over the Stingrays at Mt Smart Stadium two.
Both teams may have crossed the line for three tries but it was the handy boot of Canterbury Bulls captain James Baxendale which sealed the deal with two points being the difference on the final whistle.
Earlier in the year, Canterbury Bulls Coach Andrew Auimatagi led his Linwood Keas team to a thriller Canterbury Club Grand-Final win over the Hornby Panthers and he’s already taking his early season form into the National Premiership.
While Counties weren’t victorious, they’ll have plenty of positives to stew over fielding a young side full of up and coming talent with the likes of youngster Sheldon Roger, who has come through the New Zealand Rugby League age-group pathways featuring in last year’s New Zealand 18s squad.
2017 National Premiership winners and favourites, the Akarana Falcons also proved why they’ve held the title as back-to-back champions in 2016 and 2017 asserting their dominance over Waikato with a 46-6 win.
The blowout scoreline was the result of a superb team effort that saw Akarana fullback Polima Siaki pick up a double and six of his teammates cross the line to accumulate eight tries in total, seven of which were converted between captain Francis Leger and Chaz Brown.
Waikato’s cause wasn’t helped when their star fullback left the field with a serious injury. However, the players were full of enthusiasm heading into round two where they’ll take on Canterbury who will be riding the high of momentum following their round one win.
In the National Championship, Northland staged an upset on their home turf with a 16-14 victory over the Wellington Orcas. Ruakaka turned out a cheerful crowd who witnessed their home team in a nail-biter sending the Orcas packing on a long trip home to reflect on their performance.
Counties 18 Canterbury 20
Akarana 46 Waikato 6
Northland 16 Wellington 14
Next week’s fixtures:
Canterbury v Waikato
2pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Wellington v Otago
2pm, Saturday, 22 September 17, 2018
Petone Recreation Ground, Wellington
This Saturday, the NZRL National Competition kicks off with round one of the championship on Saturday, 15 September in Takahiwai and round one of the Premiership taking place in Auckland on Sunday, 16 September.
The Canterbury Bulls will face Counties Manukau Stingrays in the early game (2pm) at Mt Smart Stadium 2, followed by a rematch of last year’s Premiership final with the defending champions Akarana Falcons, taking on Waikato at 4pm.
All Premiership games will be televised live on SKY, including the 6 October Grand-Final at Mt Smart Stadium. This will feature the Championship winners v fourth-placed premiership side in a promotion/relegation match followed by the Premiership Final.
This year’s national competition format will see the top four teams (Akarana, Counties, Canterbury and Waikato) contest the premiership title, with Auckland represented by its two NZRL zones, while winners from three qualifying pools, the Wellington Orcas, Northern Swords and Otago Whalers, will compete for the NZRL National Championship.
(corner of One Tree Point Road and McEwan Road) Ruakaka
Team lists for this weekend:
Counties Manukau Canterbury
Round two of Regional Pool Play throughout the country saw some runaway wins and serious battles up front.
Northland 24 Bay of Plenty 18
The Northern Swords on the road earned a come-from behind win over the Bay of Plenty Lakers thanks to a late try off the back of a 40/20 in the 71st minute to see them leave Rotorua with the 24-18 victory.
Waikato 44 Taranaki 8
Meanwhile over in Ngaruawahia, the Morgan Kutia coached Waikato team asserted their dominance over the Taranaki Sharks in a friendly game, coming away with a 44-8 victory. Waikato look set for a good campaign in the National Premiership this year while Taranaki set-up to take on Manawatu in their next regional pool play game.
Wellington 28 Manawatu 26
The weather held off for an exciting game of momentum with both Wellington and Manawatu putting points on the board every chance they got. Wellington were definitely the bigger and faster team but Manawatu were able to hold on with the score 16 ALL at half time.
Both sides came out strong in the second half with the experienced Manaia Osborne leading his Orcas around the park. But, although the Orcas had a strong forward pack, they were up against Shade Heta who played a dominant 80 minutes in the Number 10 jersey.
The nail-biter finished with a 26-28 win to Wellington Orcas after a thrilling 80 minute arm-wrestle.
Next weekend will see Manawatu Mustangs meet Taranaki Sharks at Corbett Park, Oakura, New Plymouth.
Southland Rams 24 West Coast Chargers 18
The Southland Rams put away the West Coast Chargers in a close contest, winning 24-18 on Saturday at Wingham Park.
A hard-fought opening to the match saw the Southland Rams capitalise on their weight of possession and open the scoring through Ramera Chambers, putting them ahead 4 – 0. A gutsy performance from West Coast had them turning up for each other on defence time and time again, but it was their discipline that ultimately let them down.
Coach of the Southland Rams Te Iwi Wairau was happy with his side’s second half making only eight errors. His stand-out players included Karradine Neilson and Rangi Rogers who had great runs from the back.
Aoraki Eels 42 Tasman Titans 16
The Aoraki Eels got their 2018 campaign underway with a 42-16 win.
The tight exchanges early in the contest made for a relatively uneventful first half scoring wise, but the in-roads were being made in terms of pressure and fatigue.
In the second half, the Eels started to dominate the middles and made good metres, controlling the majority of possession. The Eels backs attacked the space on the edges when the ball came their way, although they missed some opportunities through a lack of patience. The forwards’ strong ball carries allowed the backs plenty of chances to finish with strong running, and Nathan Robinson’s sharp kicking game.
Josh Craig was a stand-out at fullback and kept talking to the defensive line from the back. Carol Ikiua was a powerhouse with his propping partner Jesse Macdonald, both leading from the front making metres and strong defense.
Otago Whalers BYE
The National Competition kicks off on Saturday 11 August. Here is an overview of the way the competition works throughout the country. Who will make it through to the promotion relegation this year?
For updates on the National Premiership, watch this page on the NZRL website.
The National Championship kicks off on Saturday 11 August. Here is an overview of the way the competition works throughout the country. Who will make it through to the promotion relegation this year?
Posted by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Sunday, 5 August 2018
The National Championship kicks off on Saturday 11 August. Here is an overview of the way the competition works throughout the country. Who will make it through to the promotion relegation this year?
Posted by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Sunday, 5 August 2018
The National Premiership kicks off In September. Here is an overview of the way the competition works throughout the country.
Posted by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Sunday, 5 August 2018
The National Premiership kicks off In September. Here is an overview of the way the competition works throughout the country.
Rugby League player suspended for 18 months
As of 1 January 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List for 2018 has been updated. The updates see a number of changes which can be read on the Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) webpage here.
It’s important for all rugby league players to be aware of their obligations to ensure they are not taking any substance that may be on the WADA Prohibited List. New Zealand Rugby League works alongside DFSNZ to ensure our athletes receive education and are pointed to the DFSNZ resources and information outlining their obligations. This includes seminars for all high performance and age-group national representative teams. We also push material out through our tournament programmes.
However this week, a rugby league player has been found to test positive.
Today, Point Chevalier Pirates and Akarana Falcons representative player Siliga Kepaoa was suspended for 18 months after testing positive for the prohibited substance Higenamine. Higenamine is classified as an S3 Beta-2 agonist, a specified substance prohibited at all times in and out of competition. (To read the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand decision, please click here.)
Kepaoa’s case proves a valuable lesson for other players using supplements. Kepaoa was unaware the “Oxyshred” he was consuming advertised as a “super potent thermogenic fat burner” would see him test positive for a prohibited substance, higenamine, and cost him an 18 month suspension.
The Tribunal was satisfied that Mr Kepaoa had shown there had been no significant fault in testing positive for higenamine but there was a degree of fault falling within the “high end of the range of the defence”.
Mr Kepaoa acknowledged he had received some education about drugs in sport prior to the start of the Falcon’s 2017 season and was aware that he needed to ensure he was not using supplements with banned substances in them. Mr Kepaoa also accepted he should not have relied on a salesperson’s advice as to whether Oxyshred contained a banned substance and should have checked the product for himself. The Tribunal considers Mr Kepaoa should have taken more care but that his failure to do so should be reflected in the relatively limited deduction allowed from the otherwise mandatory 2 year suspension period. The Tribunal accepted the agreed recommended 18 month suspension period. In light of his immediate acknowledgment of the breach Mr Kepaoa’s period of suspension from participating in sport was backdated to 19 September 2017.
Although Mr Kepaoa was disappointed, he accepted the ban was a result of his failure to personally check if his supplements contained prohibited substances from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List .
New Zealand Rugby League supports Drugfree Sport New Zealand and their ongoing work to ensure sport in New Zealand is clean. In doing so, NZRL strives to provide all high performance and age-group representatives with up-to-date anti-doping education allowing them to make informed decisions.
You can read more about your anti-doping obligations as a player on the New Zealand Rugby League Anti-Doping page, which includes information on the Prohibited List, anti-doping rules, medications, supplements, testing and where you can find help and resources.
The most important rule for athletes to remember is that if you are not 100% sure, don’t take it until you check with Drug Free Sport NZ and ensure it is not on the Prohibited List.
Defending champions, Akarana Falcons have done it again cementing their second successive National Premiership title over Waikato, 30-4.
The Falcons put a lid on Waikatoâ€™s hopes of a fairy-tale finish with a clinical game of footy at Mt Smart Stadium tonight.
Despite Waikato being presented with the first opportunity to put four points on the board in the first three minutes, the Aucklanders made excellent work of beating them to it. Following back-to-back sets of six and a knock on from Waikato Captain, Aaron Jolley, Akaranaâ€™s Siliga Kepaoa crossed the line for the first try of the game, shortly converted by Mark Graham, 6-0.
Relentless defense from Waikato just wasnâ€™t enough to stop the force of Akarana who got another try on the board minutes later to push the score out to 12-0 following another successful conversion from Mark Graham.
A massive set of six from Waikato saw them gear up for their first try but a stray pass that missed the hands of their right-hand winger had Akarana turn the ball over. Waikato continued to match Akarana set for set but just couldnâ€™t quite convert the several opportunities they did have into points.
Coming out of halftime with a 12-0 lead, Akarana caught Waikato napping to put another four points on the scoreboard, once again successfully converted by Mark Graham, 18-0. That was shortly followed by a try from their captain, Philip Kingi that after a conversion, took the score to 24-0.
A sin-bin for Waikato captain, Aaron Jolley, was then matched by Akarana when their star second-rower, Daniel Reuelu-Bachanan was binned too. It was Waikato that took full advantage of the situation when they scored their first well deserved four-pointer of the night in Eric Taiulu. An unsuccessful conversion meant that would be the last points the visitors would put on the board.
Akarana dealt Waikato their final blow in the last 10 minutes with Cole Waaka getting across the line, and Graham successful with his boot to make the final score 30-4.
Although they fell short of creating a fairy-tale finish, Waikato captain, Aaron Jolley was impressed with his teamâ€™s performance considering it was only last year they were promoted into the National Premiership.
â€œWeâ€™re super proud just to get into the final with the big boys and our province is proud of us too so weâ€™re happy with the campaign weâ€™ve had this year,â€
â€œThe brotherhood is as strong as ever with some new blood in our team – weâ€™ll be back next year to have another crack,â€ Jolley said.
Lifting the championsâ€™ shield for the second straight year, Akaranaâ€™s captain Philip Kingi was quick to thank his opposition.
â€œIâ€™d like to thank Waikato for a great game, they really deserved to be here and the score doesnâ€™t quite reflect their efforts this year,â€
â€œWe play a lot of footy together so it was just a matter of stringing together our plays and I think we managed to do that tonight,â€ Kingi said.
MVP of the match: Taylor Daniels â€“ Akarana
1st/2ndÂ : Akarana v Waikato â€“ October 7, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, 7.30pm
Akarana Falcons 30 (Siliga Kepaoa, Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan, Taylor Daniels, Philip Kingi, Cole Waaka tries; Mark Graham 5, goals) Waikato 4 (Eric Taiulu try)
New Zealand Residents team named to play NZ Maori on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 2.30pm at Pulman Park, Papakura: