April 16, 2022

Akarana has won their first Sky Sport Women’s Premiership title in 11 years with an upset 24-12 victory over Counties Manukau.

Both teams went back and forth in the early stages, although back-to-back errors put Akarana on the Stingray’s line. The Falcons, however, could not convert this position into points as the Counties line held firm for multiple sets.

Counties marched down the field off the back of that stifling defence, and a right-side shift saw centre Abigail Roache open the scoring, punishing a retreating falcons defence. The score remained four points to nil after Mikayla Eli was unable to covert.

Twenty minutes in, front-rower Harata Butler showed her class and experience, forcing a mistake and crashing over the Counties line to level up the scores. Tatiana Finau put over the conversion as the blue outfit took the lead, 6-4.

Counties instantly hit back following an Akarana error. After marching down the field, a Stingrays shift to the left edge saw winger Pahu Kani cross over for her first of the afternoon. Mikayla Eli was again unable to add the extras. The Stingrays added another four-pointer as winger Alexandrea Kiriwi went through in the right corner as Counties Manukau took a 12-6 lead into the break.

Akarana struck first after half-time as competition MVP Laishon Albert-Jones showed her ability as she played a short-ball to back-rower Kaiya Atai, who crashed over and closed the gap to two points. The Falcons followed that up with another try as Tatiana Finau grabbed her second after playing to the left side as they took their first lead of the final.

The Falcons scored their third unanswered try as fullback Lavinia Tauhalaliku was again involved, breaking a tackle and setting up Rowena Meleisea in the right corner to extend their lead to 18-12. With five minutes remaining, Falcons Hooker Capri Paekau punished the retreating defence of the Stingrays as she scooted from dummy-half and went 40 metres to all but secure their first premiership title in 11 years.

09 April 2022

The two leading teams in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership faced off this morning in a grand final preview, and it was nothing short of a passionate display of footy at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park.

Akarana’s Albert-Jones kicked off the scoring with a barging run through the middle, but Counties hit back through Gloria Murray-Fiu and Kiwi Fern veteran Fotu-Moala. The reigning Sky Sport Premiers went into the break with an 18-4 lead.

As in the first half, Akarana came out firing with a try to fullback Lavinia Tahalaliku bringing it back within an eight-point game.

However, in true Counties fashion, they hit straight back with a clever left edge shift to put winger Kelly Alexander over for the Stingrays and in front by 10.

It wasn’t long until Akarana prop Clementine Varea’s charging run down the middle set up Albert-Jones for her second of the day, bringing the game back to within a converted try.

Counties’ quick play the balls had Akarana on the back foot, putting centre Abigail Roache into space and over for the Stingray’s second of the half.

However, a clinical kick from Albert-Jones put Akarana back into attacking position to which Kiwi Fern Kanyon Paul ran a beautiful line to bring the game to within only four points.

With two minutes remaining, Akarana stormed down the field to earn a six again set on their line; however, a mistake on the left edge cut their comeback short.

Counties hold on 26-22 in a top of the table thriller.

It was the Mid Central Vipers’ turn to take on the reigning champs, the Counties Manukau Stingrays at Pulman Park for round two of the Sky Sport National Women’s Premiership.

 

Counties took the first points of the match through number sixteen Alix Leaupepe. Teammate Annessa Biddle scored off the back of some messy play from both sides, the Vipers defence eventually cracked from the unorganised play. Mid central finally cracked the Counties defence on the halftime buzzer, Odellee Edmonds crashed over the line to give her team some much needed points leading into the break. Counties lead the Mid Central Vipers 10 – 6.

 

Counties number eighteen Halayna Finau scored the first try of the half. Pressure from Counties continued to pile up with a try from Pahu Kani extending Counties lead. With ten minutes to go the Vipers refused to stay down, Agnes Faraimo scored the first try of the half for Mid Central. Kelly Alexander answered back with a try of her own for Counties to secure the win for her team.

 

Counties Manukau proved too strong for the Mid Central side to take the win. The Sky Sport Women’s Premiership continues tomorrow at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch when Canterbury takes on the Akarana Falcons.

 

Full-time Counties Manukau – 28  Mid Central – 10

 

Try Scorers

Counties Manukau: Alix Leaupepe; Annessa Biddle; Halayna Finau; Pahu Kani; Kelly Alexander.

Mid Central: Odelle Edmonds; Agnes Faraimo.

Akarana Falcons prove too strong for the Mid Central Vipers and take the win over the Vipers.

Day two of the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership saw the Akarana Falcons take on the Mid Central Vipers on Akarana’s home ground, Trusts Stadium in Auckland.

The Vipers drew first blood as Aggy Faraimo charged over the line to give her team a head start early in the match. Akarana under pressure scored a try of their own through Tatiana Finau, with an excellent line through the defence. An impressive response saw another excellent try scored by the Viper’s Sarahcen Oliver. Rowena Maleisea scored for Akarana a few moments later to keep the score close as they head into halftime.

Kaiyah Atai opened the scoring in the second half followed by another try from teammate Capri Paekau to take the lead over the Vipers. The Vipers weren’t going down without a fight, Oliver scored her second try of the match to close the gap once again. Akarana then scored another four-pointer through a smart dummy half run by Mela Vili. Clementine Varea refused to be shut down by the Vipers defence as she barged over the line to score a try of her own. Back-to-back tries by Akarana by Lavinia Tauhalaliku

The Sky Sport Women’s Premiership continues next Saturday when Counties Manukau play Mid Central at Pulman Park.

26 March

The opening match of the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership saw 2021 National Competition champions Canterbury take on 11 time Premiership Champions, Counties Manukau.

Kere Matua opened the scoring for the Stingrays, and ex Kiwi Fern and Counties fullback Amber Kani followed suit with a clever left foot step into space.

Gloria Su’a opened the scoring for Canterbury, capitalising on an offload from winger Mikayla Werahiko. But it wasn’t long until Counties answered back through Annessa Biddle before Alexandrea Kiriwi dotted over for another Stingray four-pointer.

Counties Manukau led the Canterbury side 20 – 4 at the break.

The second forty saw Counties dominate as Kere Matua barged over for her second to then set up another Counties four-pointer after a powerful run through the middle.

Canterbury halfback Cassie Siataga’s barnstorming run under the posts lifted her side’s spirits. Still, Counties were too dominant across the park scoring a further four tries throughout the second forty with a hattrick to Makayla Eli.

Counties clinical with a 46 – 10 victory to kick off the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership for 2022.

11 November 2021

New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce that the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership will take place from the 26th March, with the final set for the 16th April ahead of the mid-year Kiwi Ferns Test and again in October as part of the wider 2022 National Competition.

This year, the Women’s Premiership and Championship were amalgamated into a singular Women’s National Competiton without the Auckland teams due to Covid-19 restrictions.

2022 will see the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership coincide with the rescheduled NRLW in March, allowing players unable to relocate to Australia the opportunity to bid for a place in the Kiwi Ferns squad.

Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says, “It’s really exciting for our girls to have an opportunity early in the year and then again come October, not only for Kiwi Ferns prospects but all women involved in our game.

“Having an enriched calendar, especially after this Covid riddled year, means women and girls across the country will further develop, grow and strengthen their skillsets due to the increased playing opportunities we can provide.

“Thank you to Sky Sport for their above and beyond support of our women’s game and commitment to its growth across the country,” Avaiki concludes.

2022 will also see NZRL introduce a series of inaugural tournaments for the 16s to 18s Girls age group, including the District 9s Tournament (February – April), NZRL Secondary Schools Girl’s Tournament (August) and NZRL Girl’s Youth Tournament (October).

GM of Football and High-Performance, Motu Tony, says, “It’s great to be able to showcase a women’s rugby league calendar that reflects the growth our female game continues to experience.

“Female participation has nearly tripled since 2016, and youth participation for girls has increased 14%.

“Being able to offer a District 9s competition, Youth Tournament and Secondary School Tournament for young female players is a huge milestone that will only see this space further accelerate with momentum.

“These tournaments will enable us to field NZ Girl’s representative teams and provide an opportunity for our future NRLW and Kiwi Ferns players to excel in the game.

“Next year will be the biggest year yet for our women’s game, and we have every reason to be excited.”