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.