The Manurewa Marlins made it back-to-back Farrelly Photos Women’s Premiership titles, after coming out on top in a thrilling Grand Final on Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium #2.
Up 20-14 with three minutes to go, Manurewa then leaked a try under the sticks and the game looked destined for extra time, only for the conversion in front to ping off the crossbar.
With first-choice kicker Alice Vailea nursing a leg injury picked up late in the game, Richmond fullback Shannon Muru was called up to attempt the kick, with the effort not having the required power, effectively handing Manurewa another title.
The win was a deserving reward for Manurewa at the end of a brilliant 2018 season, which saw them go undefeated.The Rusty Matua-coached Marlins had raced out to a 10-0 lead early against Richmond, thanks to four-pointers from Krystal Rota and Kararaina Wira-Kohu.
A quick play-the-ball from TJ Noble-Bell laid the platform for Rota’s effort, before Wira-Kohu rushed from five metres out to find a hole and crash over.
Richmond hit back on the half hour through Vailea, but when Louisa Gago wrapped around for a try in the middle of the park, which Kere Matua converted, Manurewa had a 16-4 to take to the break.
In the second half, tries to Lorina Papali’i and Johreena Sekene, one of which was converted by Vailea, cut the gap to 16-14, with both tries coming off kicks, the first from Shontelle Woodman and the second a pinpoint grubber from Vailea.
But when Manurewa’s Christyl Stowers executed a left-side shift to score with 12 minutes left, Richmond’s dream of a comeback appeared over.
Following long stoppages in play for a couple of injuries, Annetta Nuuausala powered over from close range to score a try which should have forced extra time, with a couple of centimetres on the ensuing conversion denying the central Aucklanders a shot at a memorable victory.
Earlier in the day the Ponsonby Ponies ran out convincing 54-18 winners over Mt Wellington in the second-tier Grand Final, with backrower Mele Toki starring with three tries.
Manurewa 20 (Krystal Rota, Kararaina Wira-Kohu, Louisa Gago, Christyl Stowers tries; Kere Matua 2 goals) Richmond 18 (Alice Vailea, Lorina Papali’i, Johreena Sekene, Annetta Nuuausala tries; Alice Vailea goal). At Mt Smart Stadium #2.