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.

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).

Played Win Lost Draw Scored Against Points Pts  diff %
AKARANA FALCONS 1 0 1 0 16 28 0 -12 57%
CANTERBURY BULLS 1 1 0 0 28 16 2 12 175%
COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS 1 1 0 0 62 16 2 46 388%
WAIKATO 1 0 1 0 16 62 0 -46 26%


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.

Richard Becht & Photosport.nz

While a Counties Manukau side laden with Warriors NRL premiership players dominated the final, Akarana and Warriors loose forward Georgia Hale claimed the top individual honour on the last day of the NZRL national women’s tournament at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura today.

The Stingrays just squeezed into the decider after edging the Mid-Central Vipers 14-12 in their semi-final yesterday but they responded by overpowering the Akarana Falcons 32-4 in the final to retain their crown.

Kiwi Ferns and Warriors centre Amber Kani opened the scoring for Counties Manukau before Akarana responded through another Warriors NRLW player in centre Jules Newman, who switched to rugby league just a few months ago.

That would be the only joy for the Falcons as the Stingrays struck again through Kiwi Ferns and Warriors hooker Krystal Rota to take a 10-4 lead into halftime.

Rota had a second after the break while Kiwi Ferns and Warriors fullback Apii Nicholls also crossed.

While she was in the beaten Akarana side, Kiwi Ferns star and Vodafone Warriors community relations coordinator Hale was the standout individual over the three days to claim the player of the tournament award.

Earlier in the day, the Auckland Vulcans accounted for Wai-Coa-Bay 30-8 in the play-off for fifth and sixth while Canterbury finished third after edging the Mid-Central Vipers 6-4 in the third and fourth play-off.



At Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura



Counties Manukau Stingrays 32 (Krystal Rota 2, Amber Kani, Mele Hufanga, Apii Nicholls, Kararaina Wira-Kohu tries; Apii Nicholls 4 conversions).

Akarana Falcons 4 (Jules Newman try).

Halftime: 10-4 Stingrays.


Third-fourth play-off:

Canterbury 6 (Cassie Siataga try; Cassie Siataga conversion).

Mid-Central Vipers 4 (Sherri Burgess try).


Fifth-sixth play-off:

Auckland Vulcans 30 (Laishon Albert Jones 2, Aleasha Brider, Mele Toki, Tahina Heta, Alix Leaupepe tries; Jhana Magele 3 conversions).

Wai-Coa-Bay 8 (Nina Barton, Daumavia Herewini tries).



NZRL National Women’s Tournament Team











11 Ngatokotoru ARAKUA AKARANA




15 Tanika-Jazz NOBLE AKARANA

16 Geneva Tainui WEBBER COUNTIES




  • Coach of the Tournament – Awarded by Justin Morgan NZRL – Ross Uele
  • Manager of the Tournament – Awarded by (TBC) Nadene Conlon NZRL = Sabrina Manu
  • Referee of the Tournament – Awarded by Luke Watts NZRL – Rochelle Tamarua


  • Trainer of the Tournament – Awarded by Elizabeth Richards = Haze Rewiti
  • NZRL “More Than Just A Game” Team of the Tournament – Awarded by Elizabeth Richards – Mid-Central Vipers
  • Best Back of the Tournament – Awarded by Justin Morgan – Joeannha Purcell
  • Best Forward of the Tournament – Awarded by Justin Morgan – Aiesha Leigh Smalley
  • Player of the Tournament – Awarded by Luisa Avaiki – Georgia Hale