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: