24 October 2023
The 18s Clubs vs Schools did not disappoint as they put on a stellar afternoon of rugby league.
Clubs were the first to strike as Kayliss Fatialofa created a half chance for Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea to finish off.
Schools however hit right back through lock Elijah Leaumoana as he crashed over from dummy half to even the scores. Both teams hung in the wrestle before winger Raphael Sio gave the Clubs side the advantage again, going into the sheds up ten points to six.
Sio carried his scoring form into the second half as he crossed over two minutes into the stanza. The teal outfit then went on a tear, as Mano-Le-Mamea put his edge rower into a hole and backing up to score under the posts.
With Schools under the pumped Rotorua Boys winger Malakai Cama popped up with the ball, beat two defenders and set up centre Kesaia Su’a to reduce the margin to eight. An obstruction by Fatialofa gave the Schools some attacking position and St Paul’s Sio Kali made his way over to put the game within two.
Sensing the moment, a looping pass from MVP Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea connected with Kayliss Fatialofa to once again extend the Clubs lead. Although Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea crossed late it wasn’t enough as Clubs ran out 26-22 winners.
23 October 2022
NZ Clubs flawless in their victory over NZ Schools at North Harbour’s QBE Stadium.
Both teams got into the wrestle early but a costly penalty allowed left side centre Paris Pickering to open the games account on the next set.
Clubs winger Kyla Lynch Brown then buffed the advantage as Clubs went up 10-0. Youth Tournament MVP and Counties fullback Tamisha Tulua then found herself in some space as she went under the post, Clubs owning all the ascendency in the first half.
Another set on the School’s line saw Akarana’s Tatiana Finau crash over on the right edge before Paris Pickering finished off a left hand shift to dummy the fullback and put the Clubs side up 28-0 going into the sheds.
Tulua continued where they left off scoring from within a minute of the second half and the Clubs side didn’t look back.
Lynch Brown added to her tally as well as Claudia Finau, Ronise Matini and Kimoana Niupalau as they recorded a famous 50-0 victory.
NZ CLUBS 50
Tries: Pickering, Lynch Brown x2, Tulua x2, T Finau, C Finau, Matini, Niupala
Conversions: T Finau 7/9
NZ SCHOOLS 0
Kiwi Ferns Mya Hill-Moana and Kararaina Wira-Kohu took the opportunity to speak to all three New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) girls’ teams last night ahead of the first-ever national representative matches today at the North Harbour Stadium.
The U16 grade will see Auckland Invitational play against Aotearoa Whaanui at 12.00pm, while the U18 NZRL Clubs and Schools match kicks off at 2.00pm.
Both games are free to attend and LIVE on Sky Sport.
Mya (20), an NRLW Premiership-winner and Māori All Star, started her journey in Huntly at the Taniwharau Rugby League Club before making her way up the ranks in rangatahi (youth) tournaments, Waikato-based competitions and New Zealand Māori Rugby League fixtures.
“It was cool to speak to the girls because it reminded me of where I was at their age and how I started. I felt like I was able to give back to them by talking about my experiences,” Mya said.
“This certain campaign is awesome because it provides our girls with the opportunity to be scouted from everywhere.
“It’s growing the women’s game from a young age and preparing them for what’s to come, they’re already wearing the fern and the kiwi on their uniform this weekend.”
For Kararaina (30), who debuted for the Kiwi Ferns in 2020 v Fetu Samoa, her pathway looked quite different to Mya’s.
“My beginnings were opposite to Mya and I mean that in the most respectful way, where I come from in Northland (Whangarei) it’s union-based,” Kararaina said.
“But it’s nice to see a lot of young girls playing in U14-U18 grades now, making these games a win for women’s rugby league in general. More teams mean more opportunities for girls filtering through these channels.
“This is something we didn’t have when I was playing which is massive for the growth and development of not only players but the staff too.”
NZRL Head of Women’s Rugby League Luisa Avaiki Tavesivesi was a driving force behind the success of these matches, a long-standing dream for the former Kiwi Fern
“It was awesome to hear both Mya and Kat speak not only because they’re playing at the highest level but because they came through their own grassroots routes respectively,” Tavesivesi said.
“The female game is so important to us, with the Kiwi Ferns in mind these pathways have been developed not just for our rangatahi but to improve everyone including coaches, referees and administrators.
“What that means is if our emerging talent, even from the youngest age, get opportunities to develop and be their best in competitive competitions it’s only going to improve our Kiwi Ferns system.
“I’m proud, it’s actually kind of emotional to know our young girls are in a campaign just like we are at the Kiwi Ferns right now.
“There’s also so many obstacles we have had to go through to make these fixtures happen, when you see the product and the players are excited to play it makes all the work worth it.”
The Kiwi Ferns are headed to the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in York, England on Tuesday, October 25.
19 October 2022
This weekend brings us the return of NZRL’s Clubs vs Schools fixture and the introduction of the 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative matchups.
The Labour weekend brings us the first ever 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative game, where the best talent from across the motu face Auckland’s top 17.
Both sides claim considerable talent across their respective squads in a game that sees the young future stars of the game. The Wellington cohort of Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto and Trinity Tauaneai headline an exciting and balanced Aotearoa Whaanui, which has strike all across the park.
Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili leads the Auckland Invitational side out after an outstanding performance in the 16’s grand final. She is joined by teammate Danii-Nicole Gray and the exciting Tayla-Benet Masoe, who played at the back for the Auckland Vulcans.
The 16s Auckland Invitational is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team with strike all over, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita looked dangerous with every touch. Aotearoa Whaanui is one dominated by a solid Southern Scorpions side. Exciting talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Aotearoa side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Fanga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
Starting in 2020, the NZRL Clubs vs Schools clash features the best 18s talent Aotearoa offers. Although it was unable to take place in 2021 due to covid-19, it has already seen many of its participants go on to sign with NRL Clubs. Players such as Sam McIntyre (Gold Coast Titans), Daeon Amituanai (Penrith Panthers) and Josiah Karapani (South Sydney Rabbitohs) all found homes in the Telstra Premiership after playing in this match.
The 2022 game will feature an inaugural girl’s clash displaying the depth of the women’s game. NZRL Secondary Schools MVP Sharnyze Pihema headlines the match with Seriah Palepale and Giovanna Suani, also ones to watch for the Schools. The Clubs squad is led by Youth Tournament MVP Tamisha Tulua and Upper Central’s Alexis Tauaneai, who were electric in the girl’s competition.
Secondary Schools and Youth tournament MVPs Wasaike Salabiau and Ben Peni head the boys game that features top talent littered through the sides. South Island’s Oliver Lawry and St Paul’s Sio Kali also show the depth of ability in this matchup.
Squads can be subject to change due to injury*
All games are free to attend and live on Sky Sport!
16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI
Auckland Invitational 16 Girls versus Rest of Aotearoa 16 Girls; Sunday 23 October, 12 pm. North Harbour Stadium
AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 GIRLS
AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 GIRLS
18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS
New Zealand Schools Girls versus New Zealand Clubs Girls; Sunday 23 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium
18 GIRLS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:
18 GIRLS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:
Auckland Invitational Boys 16s versus Aotearoa Whaanui Boys 16s; Monday 24 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium
16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI
AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 BOYS
AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 BOYS
New Zealand Schools Boys versus New Zealand Clubs Boys; Monday 24 October, 4 pm. North Harbour Stadium
18 BOYS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:
18 BOYS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:
NZRL would like to acknowledge the selection of Leti Jeff Samuela (De La Salle College) who, after an awesome Secondary Schools tournament was named in the NZ Schools team but has unfortunately been to withdraw due to injury.
October 14 2022
The 2022 Boys representative fixtures boast an extreme amount of top talent from across the motu. New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the return of the Clubs vs Schools match-up and the inaugural 16s Boys Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui. This 16s clash puts the top talent from around Aotearoa up against the melting pot that is Tāmaki Makaurau, whilst the 18s Clubs vs Schools fixture is a combination of the best players in both the NZRL Secondary Schools (SS) and Youth (YT) Tournaments.
The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
Auckland Rugby League’s Thaine Ashford said, “The quality of rugby league across the Secondary Schools and Youth Tournaments has been exceptional.
Plenty of players outside the Auckland Invitational 18 were unlucky to miss out, but that shows the quality of talent in the ARL competitions and pathways.”
The Clubs vs Schools fixture is littered with outstanding talent across both teams. NZRL SS MVP Waisake Salabiau returns to the rugby league field alongside teammate Malakai Cama; they are joined by St Paul’s Sio Kali and South Island half Oliver Lawry. Not to be outdone, the School’s pack includes Malachi Tony, Elijah Salesa Leaumoana and YT Final MVP Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea. After a strong Youth Tournament, Counties contingent Kayliss Fatialofa, Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea, Jarome Falemoe and Ben Peni lead a versatile Clubs side. Scorpion Makaia Taufa slots in at dummy-half, and Team of the Tournament half Afaese Fa’avae leads the squad around the park.
NZRL General Manager of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony stated, “The return of the National Secondary Schools and NZRL National Youth Tournaments, after a Covid-19 enforced hiatus, gave our rangatahi and rugby league community a fantastic opportunity to come together.
“The tournaments showcased the enormous talent we have playing and participating in rugby league, and our inaugural female National Youth Tournament showed that the future of the Kiwi Ferns is bright and exciting.
“The efforts of those who performed exceptionally well in our tournaments have been recognised. They will get another opportunity to connect and compete with the rugby league talent throughout the motu.
I am excited about the talent we have that will compete in these fixtures and also proud that we can offer our young female players a representative opportunity for the first time.”
12 October 2022
Counties were too strong as they take the 16s NZRL Youth Tournament for 2022.
Despite the score,, Akarana hit the lead first after multiple errors from the Stingrays side. A fresh set on the Stingrays line saw Akarana centre Taipari Wikitera steamroll through the Counties left edge to open the scoring.
From there it was all Counties-Manukau. Coming from the bench, Sale Tatapu barged over the line to give the Stingays the lead, which they never relinquished going into the sheds up 12-4. From the break, another interchange forward this time Atelea Filo made his way over and Joshua Totara Kopua sealed the win as the Counties outfit ran out 22-3 winners.
COUNTIES MANUKAU 22
Tries: Tatapu, Lolesio, Filo, Totara Kopua
Conversions: Fatani Latu 3/4
Conversions: Marsters 0/1
Counties have repeated their efforts from the Girl’s tournament, seeing both age groups advance to their respective grand finals.
The 16’s match-up was set after dominating victories by the Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays. The Stingrays outfit put Auckland to the sword, winning 26-4, while the Falcons were able to outlast the South Island Scorpions 20-8. The Auckland derby will be played on field one at 11:00 am
The final in the 18’s grade sees Counties again, this time facing a South Island side hot off a 42-14 drubbing of Auckland. South Island boasts a talented squad, including Te Kaio Cranwell, Tanner Stowers Smith and Makaia Tafua, who were selected in the 2022 NZRL Youth Tournament Team of the Tournament. South Island 20’s half Oliver Lawry and St Thomas fullback Ngaheke Nepata round out a robust Southern outfit.
De La Salle contingent Kayliss Fatialofa, Rodney Tuipulotu and Ieti Samuelu make up a solid and determined Counties outfit. Tournament MVP Ben Peni will look to continue his fine form and help his side capture the Youth Tournament trophy. This side also features wing Jarome Falemoa, Phranklyn Mano Le Mamea and Francis Tuimauga, who were all named in the Tournament Team.
Make sure to tune in on the NZRL Youtube channel to catch all of the finals action live from Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park!
16s Grand Final
Counties Manukau v Akarana Falcons 11:00 am – Puketawhero Park
18s Grand Final
Counties Manukau v South Island Scorpions 01:00 pm – Puketawhero Park
8 October 2022
After the return of the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) National Secondary Schools Tournament (NSST) and the inaugural NZRL National Girls Youth Tournament, New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the first-ever 16’s and 18’s Girls representative fixtures. The two-week-long tournaments displayed the growth in the female game, and these fixtures will be another step in the pathway to becoming the next generation of Kiwi Fern talent.
The 16’s age group will see an Auckland Invitational team take on Aotearoa Whaanui, with the match-up displaying the best young talent from across the motu, Whilst in the 18’s, The girls will play out the Clubs vs Schools fixture that began in 2020.
The 16’s game will showcase the talent and depth in the girl’s game. The Wellington cohort of Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto and Trinity Tauaneai headline an exciting and balanced Aotearoa Whaanui, which has strike all across the park.
Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili leads her Auckland team out after an outstanding performance in the 16’s grand final. She is joined by teammate Danii-Nicole Gray and the exciting Tayla-Benet Masoe, who played at the back for the Auckland Vulcans.
Auckland Rugby League’s Head of Schools and Female Pathways, Mary Passi, commented on the fixture, “With the increase of numbers in our female game here in Auckland, it’s another great opportunity for our Auckland players to test themselves against the best talent from around Aotearoa. It’s great to see several Auckland players selected across all teams.”
The 18 Clubs vs Schools clash has a plethora of talent littered throughout the fixture. NSST MVP Sharnyze Pihema headlines the School’s squad, which possess many players from both tournaments. School’s fullback Braxton Sorensen-McGee was a standout in both tournaments, as she also led the Counties 16’s to a grand final win. Giovanna Suani and NZRL 16’s Youth Tournament MVP and top try scorer Seriah Palepale also round out a strong Schools squad.
The NZ Clubs outfit can also show off star power throughout their 19. Youth Tournament MVP Tamisha Tulua was outstanding out the back for Counties, and the edge back row of Tatiana and Claudia Finau caused havoc on their way to the 18’s title. Locking up the middle is Upper Central’s Alexis Tauaneai, who was a problem for every team in the competition, using her strength, footwork and distribution ability to be dangerous every time she touched the ball.
Head of Women’s Rugby League, Luisa Avaiki, said, “New Zealand Rugby League intends to enhance female participation and opportunities in our youth grades. It has been such a pleasure to see the success of the inaugural NZRL Girls National Youth Tournament. “
“To have teams from all across the motu attend and represent their zones and districts has been an exciting start to the growth and potential of the youth girls space.”
“The talent on display throughout the week was extraordinary and impressive. It maintains how vital these pathways are for any aspiring young girl who wants to reach higher levels of representation. It is an exciting time for the female game.”
Congratulations to all players and staff selected!
Get down to North Harbour Stadium on October 23, or watch all the action live on Sky Sport!
Auckland Invitational 16 Girls versus Aotearoa Whaanui 16 Girls; Sunday 23 October, 12 pm. North Harbour Stadium
6 October 2022
The action from the girls u18s girl’s tournament finals kicked off on Thursday morning at Owen Delaney Park in Taupo between the Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays.
Counties Manukau drew first blood as their forwards dominated the middles with barnstorming runs to crash over the line to get four points. The Stingrays continued their form as their backs shifted the ball out to the edge for Counties to make a line break that resulted in a 50-metre runaway try.
Down on the scoreboard a determined Akarana side started to build momentum with great defence and a bit of luck to score the first points of the half. Following on from their first try, Akarana wasted no time to score their next to close out the half and even the scores at 10-10 a piece.
Counties started off the second half strong as they dominated the early part of the second half. The backs capitalised off the back of the Stingray forwards hard work, as they drew first blood in the second half to make it 14-10.
However costly errors and a sin bin from Counties allowed Akarana to creep back into the game. A late push from the Falcons saw the Akarana team crash over the line and even the score 14 all. A spirited Counties Manukau team were quickly working up the field however scrambling defence saw the Falcons shut down any attacking threat that the Stingrays had. A late penalty with two minutes to go in front of the Counties Manukau posts saw the Falcons kick a 2-point penalty to close out the game 16-14, with the Falcons being the 2022 U18 girls National Youth champions.
The 2022 Girls Youth Tournament are to be decided at Taupo’s Owen Delaney Park, with Counties Manukau featuring in both clashes.
The conclusion for the 16s Youth Competition features Counties Manukau and the Wellington Orcas. A surprise package of the tournament, Ken Laban’s Wellington side have been well drilled and clinical throughout the five days, taking the competition by storm. The Orca’s dominated the Team of the Tournament with seven players including; Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto, Riana Le’afa-Paki, Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni, Luca-Bella Ngatuere-Ongley, Trinity Tauaneai and Indiana Ronnie Russell-Via.
Facing the Orca’s are Pool A Winners Counties Manukau. Like Wellington, Counties dominated their pool on their way to the Grand Final. A strong team featuring many stars such as Braxton Sorensen-McGee, Josinah Filisi Tauiliili, Giovanni Suani and Tournament MVP Seriah Palepale. One to watch, Palepale has eight tries in three games and will be looking to score again in the decider.
The 18’s age group has come down to a final showdown between Akarana and Counties Manukau. Both teams have been dominant in the tournament so far with only a points differential of 14 separating the Auckland sides. Both sides accounted for 13 of the 19 players selected in the Team of the Tournament, including Counties fullback Tamisha Tulua, the MVP of the tournament.
Both teams are firing on all cylinders and this will be an exciting clash of some of the best talent in Aotearoa.
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
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.
April 12, 2022
The Sky Sport Women’s Premiership and the National 20’s Ruben Wiki Cup finals culminate this weekend at the home of rugby league, Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
The action kicks off at 12pm when competition dark horse South Island take on Akarana in the National 20’s final followed by 11 time winners, Counties Manukau taking on the Akarana Falcons in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership final at 2pm.
Both games are free entry at Mt Smart, no vaccine pass required, and for those out of Auckland all the action is brought to you live on Sky Sport 4.
First placed Akarana go into the final as the only undefeated team in the competition which included a tough victory over opponents South Island in the first round. The Auckland based outfit will be heading into the final with a full steam of momentum off the back of a 76-0 trouncing of the Upper Central Stallions. Big performances from key players such as Elam Payne and Sebastian Su’a will be crucial if the Falcons want to lift their first National 20’s Ruben Wiki Cup trophy.
Road to the Final
AKARANA 24 v SOUTH ISLAND 20 – 13/3 NGA PUNA WAI, CHRISTCHURCH
AKARANA 26 v COUNTIES MANUKAU 26 – 19/3 TRUSTS ARENA, AUCKLAND
AKARANA 36 v WAIKATO 14 – 2/4 BRUCE PULMAN PARK, AUCKLAND
AKARANA 76 v UPPER CENTRAL 0 – 9/4 BRUCE PULMAN PARK, AUCKLAND
South Island go into the final after a convincing victory against Counties Manukau. South Island played a composed and clinical game as they defeated the favoured Auckland side to secure their place against Akarana. A bye in the final week of the round robin also gives them a much needed rest going into what will be a tough contest. Big performances by Uriah Tuli, Ethan Faitala, Jacob Lowe and half Oliver Lawry have led to the South Island’s success, and these players will be instrumental in seeing South Island capture their first National 20’s title.
SOUTH ISLAND 20 v AKARANA 24 – 13/3 NGA PUNA WAI, CHRISTCHURCH
SOUTH ISLAND 44 v UPPER CENTRAL 12 – 20/3 NGA PUNA WAI, CHRISTCHURCH
SOUTH ISLAND 40 v WAIKATO 10 – 27/3 TRUSTS ARENA, AUCKLAND
SOUTH ISLAND 24 v COUNTIES MANUKAU 12 – 3/4 NGA PUNA WAI, CHRISTCHURCH
Counties Manukau go into the final of the SkySport Women’s Premiership looking to secure their 12th title on the bounce as they take on Auckland rivals Akarana. The Counties women have been dominant throughout the round-robin completing an undefeated run in a tight 26-22 triumph over their grand final opponents. Key veterans Christyl Stowers and Teuila Fotu-Moala will look to lead the young group to a historic consecutive victory.
COUNTIES MANUKAU 46 v CANTERBURY 10 – 26/3 TRUSTS ARENA, AUCKLAND
COUNTIES MANUKAU 28 v MID CENTRAL 10 – 2/4 BRUCE PULMAN PARK, AUCKLAND
COUNTIES MANUKAU 26 v AKARANA 22 – 9/4 BRUCE PULMAN PARK, AUCKLAND
Despite coming off a tough narrow loss against Counties, Akarana showed positive signs as they look extremely capable of breaking Counties streak in the Women’s Premiership. A different side from the grand finalists two years ago, Akarana have a young core that have already shown their class in this years’ tournament. A team not short of talent, Kiwi Ferns Lavinia Tauhalaliku and Kanyon Paul will be looking to stamp their mark on the game in tandem with half Laishon Albert-Jones. With both teams ready and raring to go, this will be thrilling 2022 SkySport Women’s Premiership final not to be missed.
AKARANA 36 v MID CENTRAL 16 – 27/3 TRUSTS ARENA, AUCKAND
AKARANA 28 v CANTERBURY 14 – 3/4 NGA PUNA WAI, CHRISTCHURCH
AKARANA 22 v COUNTIES 26 – 9/4 BRUCE PULMAN PARK, AUCKLAND
All are encouraged to get down to Mt Smart to see a Saturday filled with exciting rugby league (no vaccine pass needed) or catch all the action on SkySport 4!
April 3 2022
Canterbury hosted Akarana at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai, and Akarana got off to an early start. Ten minutes into the proceedings five-eight Roimata Amosa-Tiro sliced through to score under the posts as they took a 6-0 lead. Several minutes later Akarana doubled their try tally as a left edge shift saw left wing Roelien Du Plessis go over untouched as the lead went out to 10-0
Minutes later, Canterbury Wing Mikayla Werahiko latched onto a cross-field kick, towering over the defenders to put the South Island team back into the contest.
Akarana half-back Laishon Albert-Jones trumped any Canterbury momentum though as she crashed over from dummy-half seconds before the half-time buzzer to take a 16-6 lead into the sheds.
Canterbury came out of the blocks quickly, number 18 Sailiai Pau scoring a controversial try in the corner as they brought the score to 16-10 early in the second stanza. An error from an Akarana bomb saw Canterbury allow the Auckland outfit dangerous territory, and fullback Lavinia Tahalaliku took advantage, shedding multiple defenders to score on the left edge.
A Left side shift saw Werahiko score her second for Canterbury bringing the game within a converted try as it stood at 20-14.
Towards the back end of the match, Akarana made Canterbury pay for a penalty that didn’t reach touch. The Auckland team shifted the ball towards the right edge and Albert-Jones held the ball up for Keri Ratima to score in the right corner. Du Plessis scored her double in the final minute as Akarana exploited an overlap in the Canterbury defence. 28-14
Tries: Roimata Amosa-Tiro, Roelien Du Plessis (x2), Laishon Albert-Jones, Lavinia Tahalaliku, Keri Ratima
Conversions: Laishon Albert-Jones (2/7)
Tries: Mikayla Werahiko (x2), Sailiai Pau
Conversions: Dayna Napa (1/3)
March 13 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted both South Island and Akarana for their first hit-outs of the 2022 Ruben Wiki Cup.
Akarana asserted themselves immediately, quickly moving into the swing of the game and converting this early dominance into points as Northcote winger Tupala Faaee went over untouched in the corner.
Ten minutes in, Akarana found themselves over again through Faaee as the Falcons went to a short side shift, capitalising on an overlap to make the score 8-0 to the visitors.
Dominating the opening exchanges, Captain Doux-Fiatau-Kauhiva intercepted a loose pass to put winger Esom Ioka down the right-hand side extending the lead to 14-0 as Joshua Tanielu converted.
South Island found a way through as three quick penalties pushed them down onto the Akarana line. Tupou Kaufononga was able to turn that field position into points as he crashed over around the ruck to bring the game to 14-6 going into the half.
Eight minutes into the second stanza saw Sebastian Su’a fight his way over for a four-pointer. A superb break by Ioka put Akarana into dangerous territory and a short ball by Fiatau-Kauhiva put Su’a into a hole where he was able to score. Faaee converted to make it a 20-6 game.
With the contest going back and forth, Akarana took the game into their own hands and were able to extend their advantage in the 60th minute. A clinical set-piece saw Lani Graham-Taufa push the score to a comfortable 24-6.
With 15 minutes left in the match, South Island produced their best displays of the afternoon as Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua and fullback Kiardyn Hatch put themselves on the scoresheet in quick succession to make the game a tight contest. Missed conversions were costly as they were unable to complete the comeback with Akarana sneaking through 24-20 to end round 1.
Next week South Island hosts Upper Central Stallions and Akarana meet Counties in the Auckland derby at Trusts Stadium.
Akarana – 20
Tupala Faaee (x2), Esom Ioka, Sebastian Su’a, Lani Graham-Taufa.
Faaee (1/3), Tanielu (1/2)
South Island – 20
Tupou Kaufononga, Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua, Kiardyn Hatch.
Jacob Lowe (2/4)
March 10 2022
The premier 20’s competition, The Ruben Wiki Cup is back this year, kicking off on Saturday the 12th of March, with Waikato hosting Upper Central.
The National 20’s Ruben Wiki Cup brought a level of competition not seen before in Aotearoa, culminating in plenty of grassroots talent taking the next step in their careers, signing with professional NRL clubs.
The cup consists of five teams across the motu competing against each other in a five-week round-robin concept ending with a final being played by the first and second-placed teams. Auckland Blue and Auckland White have been replaced by Akarana and Counties Manukau this year.
Due to Covid protocols, protective layers have been set to create the safest possible competition for everyone involved. Players will be required to provide a negative Rapid Antigen Test, 48 hours prior to their scheduled games, and at this moment in time, there will be no spectators to ensure the 100 limit is kept.
In the event of a Covid framework change, spectators will be required to provide vaccination passports.
All games will be televised on Sky Sport.
Week 1 draw:
Saturday 12th March
Waikato v Upper Central – 2:00 pm – Davies Park, Huntly.
Sunday 13th March
South Island v Akarana – 2:00 pm – Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch
BYE – Counties Manukau
It’s with great sadness that we announce, former New Zealand Secondary School and under-18 representative Zae Wallace, has passed away after being struck down with the flu.
The young sportsman who’s represented New Zealand at age group level returned to Auckland this year following a stint with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side and had been in an induced coma for four weeks.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, Wallace signed a contract with the Titans to play in the NYC under-20 competition. Wallace spent that season with the Titans then joined the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup.
Playing at halfback and being the youngest member of the squad, Wallace was one of the Akarana Falcons star performers in their National Premiership championship victory in 2016. That same year he was named Auckland Rugby League’s College Player of the Year.
He won selection following a standout season with the Mt Albert Lions in Auckland’s Fox Premier Rugby League Competition. He had returned to New Zealand to play with the Northcote Tigers and had only played one game when he became ill.
Wallace is described as a “lovely and cheeky” young man, who had a great sense of humour and a great bunch of friends. A givealittle page had been set up to raise funds in support of his courageous battle, one friend wrote, “Champions don’t stop, they dust themselves off and push on. This young man is all champion.”
Our deepest condolences go out to Zae’s family and friends, not only was he a rising league star with exciting skill and potential, he was loved by many. A young talent that will be sorely missed.
Photo – Photosport
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
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: