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
Counties travelled to Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai to take on competition leaders South Island.
Early errors from the home side saw immediate points for the Auckland outfit as Timothy Tiatia finished in style crossing over in the corner. Five minutes later South Island struck back as an attacking kick from Oliver Lawry ricocheted into the hands of Jacob Lowe as he went under the posts. Halbert-Pere added the extras to put them up 6-4 early.
Off the ensuing kick off South Island charged down the field and put their stamp on the game scoring through number 14 Taani Fangupo, making the score 10-4. Not done yet, South Island halfway through the first half again found themselves in open space only for Tiatia to save a try for Counties Manukau. Counties scored with five minutes left in the half through Samuel Hansen as the score saw 10-8 going into the halftime break.
Only minutes into the second stanza South Island half Makaia Tafua forced his way over as they extended their advantage to six points. The second half was defined by the stifling defense from South Island who held Counties out on multiple occasions, not budging on their own line. These defensive sets were the foundation for number 11 Tupou Kaufononga and centre Siaki’s second half tries, completing an all-round performance.
With seven minutes remaining, Counties scored a consolation as Hansen grabbed his second, with the fulltime score reading 24-12 to the home side.
SOUTH ISLAND 24
Tries – Jacob Lowe, Taani Fangupo, Makaia Tafua, Tupou Kaufononga, Vaione Siaki
Conversions – Mata Halbert-Pere 2/5
COUNTIES MANUKAU 12
Tries – Timothy Tiatia, Samuel Hansen (x2)
Conversions – Teariki Ford 0/3
27 March 2022
Auckland’s Trusts Stadium held host to South Island and Waikato, with Waikato seeking their first win of the competition.
The South Island side did not take long to open their account, half Oliver Lawry taking advantage of a Uriah Tuli break to go over in the second minute. 14 minutes in Waikato hit back, hooker Tahere Kaio-Koroheke taking advantage of lazy ruck defense to sneak over from dummy-half. Te Awa Daniela converted to take a 6-4 lead.
South Island’s Lawry turned provider in the 19th minute as he put second-rower Tupou Kaufofona through from close range to retake the lead. Moments later Tuli again found himself in space and this time finished, scoring a scintillating solo try as the South Island side went into the break, up 16-6.
Five minutes into the second stanza a dummy half break from Kiardyn Hatch was turned into points as South Island shifted left finding Taani Fangupo who crashed over. Halbert-Pere making it 22-6. After receiving multiple penalties breakdown in the play saw Waikato prop Portman Paul fight off several defenders to bring them to with two converted tries. With five minutes remaining, Prop George Faiava snuffed out any semblance of a comeback crashing over under the posts with Jacob Lowe adding the extras.
Two minutes from time, Deijdre Siaki leapt over the pack to reign in a cross-field kick to score his first of the afternoon. Not to be outdone, Oliver Lawry connected with Jacob Lowe as he scored seconds from the buzzer to complete the victory.
South Island – 40
Tries: Lawry, Kaufofonga, Tuli, Fangupo, Faiava, Siaki, Lowe.
Conversions: Halbert-Pere (3/4), Lowe (3/3)
Waikato – 10
Tries: Kaio-Koroheke, Paul.
Conversions: Daniela (1/1), Stillinovich-Watene (0/1)
20 March 2022
Upper Central Zone made the trip to Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai to take on a South Island side, looking for their first victory in 2022.
The game started with both teams trading penalties until the seventh minute when Jacob Lowe opened the game’s account and then converted his own try.
Three minutes later, Upper Central Zone hit right back through prop forward Johnless Faulker to level the scores at 6-6 as Xavier Mitchell-Windsor converted the try.
After scooping up an attacking grubber, fullback Mata Halbert-Pere made a scintillating break to put South Island in great attacking position. From this position, a right-side shift allowed Vaione Siaki to go over untouched.
Five minutes later, a break from winger Kiardyn Hatcher led to half Oliver Lawry picking up a kick and putting South Island up 16-6 with Halbert-Pere taking over the kicking duties.
Both teams went into the sheds with the score at 16-6, and four minutes into the second stanza, halfback Arlan Perez sliced his way through to push the lead further to 22-6.
South Island started to run rampant after a break through the middle ended up with Uriah Tuli getting on the score sheet, crossing over to make it 28-6.
Tupou Kaufofonga then put the home side up 32-6, and from the ensuing kick-off, Lawry scored his second, a long-range solo effort, with 15 minutes left in the half.
Jacob Lowe also grabbed his double, plucking a wayward Upper Central pass out of the air to further the lead to 44-6. The Stallions scored a consolation with five minutes remaining through Jaxyn Tuvalu as it ended 44-12.
South Island – 44
Jacob Lowe (x2), Oliver Lawry (x2), Vaione Siaki, Uriah Tuli, Arlan Perez, Tupou Kaufofonga.
Jacob Lowe (1/2), Mata Halbert-Pere (5/6)
Upper Central Zone – 12
Johnless Faulker, Jaxyn Tuvalu
March 19 2022
Counties Manukau Stingrays tie 26- 26 with Akarana Falcons in round 2 of the NZRL National 20s competition at Auckland Trusts Stadium.
Counties opened the scoring with a try from Maddison Tekeu on the 2min mark. Followed by another try from Pesalili Ma, who was able to find space up the right edge and, with a ton of pace, sprinted from one end of the field to the other to put Counties in front with a two-score lead.
Akarana hit back with a superb play spreading the ball left to right through Joshua Tanielu’s offload pass to teammate Sebastian Hindt to put Akarana on the board.
Counties gained back their momentum as they steamrolled down the field before Teariki Ford chipped the ball into space, beautifully bounced for him to catch and score under the post. Akaranas wing, Tuipala Faaee, found himself in trouble, diving in with his legs after Ford had grounded the ball resulting in a yellow card and an 8 point try for Counties.
With 3 mins to go for the first half, Akarana were desperate for more points before heading into the sheds. Benefiting from two errors from Counties, Akarana saw Ratima emerge from the scrum up the right edge to secure them four more points before the whistle. Counties Manukau Stingrays led Akarana Falcons 20-8 at halftime.
Counites momentum continued into the first few minutes of the second half as Ford grubbers into open space, closely followed by Samuel Hansen to catch and score.
With the score margin increasing, Akarana continued aggressiveness, leading to 3 back-to-back tries. Captin Doux Fiatau-Kauhiva busted through the solid Counties defence to score their first points of the half. Minutes later, Akarana capitalised again, scoring another through Kenneth-Seth Henery-Taua, who quickly went over the line untouched to close the point gap slightly.
With 5mins left, the Counties defence fought hard to hold their ground, but Akarana were too aggressive and saw prop Paaua Papuni-Abbott with an extraordinary run to close the score gap.
After a tough back and forth contest in the last 2mins of the game, the final hooter sounded 26-26.
Counties Manukau Stingrays – 26
Maddison Tekeu, Pesalili Ma, Teariki Ford, Samuel Hansen
Teariki Ford (4/4)
Akarana Falcons – 26
Sebastian Hindt, Ratima, Doux Fiatau-Kauhiva, Kenneth-Seth Henery-Taua, Paaua Papuni-Abbott
Tuipala Faaee (3/5)
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
19 November 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup Competition returns for 2022, kicking off Saturday, March 12th, with the final taking place over Easter weekend.
Six teams will battle it out for the Ruben Wiki Cup; Akarana, Counties Manukau, Upper Central (Bay of Plenty, Coastline, Gisborne and Hauraki), Waikato, reigning champions Central Districts (Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu & Wellington), and South Island.
The Ruben Wiki Cup games will broadcast live on Sky Sport 4 to domestic and international audiences, acting as a key development pathway for future high-performance opportunities.
The Ruben Wiki Cup not only showcases New Zealand’s U20s domestic game but it provides clubs and districts with the opportunity to recruit and retain rangatahi talent, an age group notorious for significant drop-offs in sporting activity, according to Sport NZ.
NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony, says: “The National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup was a great success last year, and we look forward to stepping it up a level in 2022.
“The competition provided several opportunities for players with NRL and affiliated NRL clubs while also allowing coaches, managers, trainers and match officials the opportunity to gain further development and experience.
“The Ruben Wiki Cup will continue to expand year on year, providing broadcasted playing opportunities for our best young Kiwi talent across the country.
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their ongoing support of our game; I look forward to a great competition come 2022.”
10 April 2021
Despite the pouring rain at Opaheke Park, the 2021 National 20s Grand Final was one to remember. Central Districts were crowned 2021 NZRL National 20s Champions after upsetting Auckland Blue 18-14 in a dramatic final showdown.
Auckland Blue were dominant throughout the first half as Viliami Finau opened the scoring after just five minutes with a try in the corner. Central Districts hit back but Auckland’s Jeremiah Schuster’s scored before the break giving the home side a 10-4 lead at half-time.
Minutes into the second half Central Districts scored through Lennix Tovo and for the following half hour dominated most of the match, aided by Auckland wing Albert Fifita being sent to the sin bin with 25 to go for a professional foul.
Further tries to Wyatt So’otaga and Herman Seumanufagai, both of which were converted by Brooklyn Herewini, stretched the Central Districts lead to 18-10.
The late try to Taufa gave Auckland a chance at a dramatic comeback with less than one minute remaining, but Central Districts held on handing Auckland Blue their first loss of the competition.
Congratulations to Central Districts the 2021 NZRL National 20s Champions.
12 March 2021
A full round of rugby league actions returns this weekend where all teams will face off in Round 3 of the NZRL National 20s Competition.
Central Districts, coming off an impressive 32-20 comeback win last weekend, will be looking to continue that momentum when they face Auckland White on Saturday, 12pm at Opaheke. This will be followed by Northland v Waicoa Bay at 2pm, two teams both hungry for their first victory.
Sunday will see Auckland Blue come up against South Island at Nga Puna Wai, a team that will be hungry for redemption as they look to put last week’s defeat against Central Districts behind them and maintain the top of the table momentum.
Opaheke Reserve, Auckland
Saturday 13th March
Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch
Sunday 14th March
With the Auckland region moving to Alert to Level 1 at midday today, crowds are now permitted at all NZRL National 20s games.
NZRL is encouraging clubs and all involved in the game to continue to maintain a high level of awareness and hygiene at all rugby league activities, including trainings and games.
While the mandatory Government requirements are significantly reduced under Level 1, clubs are still required to display NZ COVID Tracer QR posters and should have a manual tracing log available too.
All rugby league participants are encouraged to keep track of where they have been.
Good handwashing practices and coughing and sneezing into elbows, not hands, remain important.
Any person feeling unwell should stay home and avoid rugby league activities, and if they present with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms should contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to see if they need a test.
4 March 2021
This Sunday 7 March clash between Central Districts and the South Island is the only game for Round Two due to the Covid-19 reschedule.
Central Districts are coming off a second half comeback loss to Auckland in which they will be looking to prove themselves against the South Island team. The South Island team will be looking to follow on from their convincing 56 to 14 victory over Northland.
PLEASE NOTE – This game will have NO CROWDS due to Covid-19 restrictions while the remaining Round Two games (Northland vs. Auckland White and Waicoa Bay vs. Auckland Blue) have been rescheduled to take place on Friday, 2 April in Opaheke, Auckland.
All National 20s games are available live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for our Australian viewers.
Jerry Collins Stadium, Wellington
Sunday 7th March 2021
09 March 2021
Due to Auckland being in Alert Level 3, where all rugby league activity (playing, contact and non-contact training) remains postponed for the remainder of the week (pending Government update), the NZRL National 20s competition schedule has been rearranged.
This Sunday, 7 March, the 12 pm match between Central Districts vs. South Island at Jerry Collins Stadium in Wellington will go ahead as planned WITHOUT CROWDS.
The two other Round Two games (Northland vs. Auckland White and Waicoa Bay vs. Auckland Blue) have been rescheduled to take place on Friday, 2 April in Opaheke, Auckland.
As a result of the reschedule, the grand final has now been moved to Saturday 10April, 12:30 pm at Opaheke, Auckland.
Unfortunately, Takahiwai will no longer host any 20s games for the year; however, Northland will get a home game at Trigg Arena (Whangarei Stadium) on Saturday 27 March, 2:30 pm vs. Auckland Blue.
All of the NZRL National 20s games can be viewed live on Sky Sport 4, as well as Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for Australian viewers.
For those OUTSIDE AUCKLAND, rugby league activity is permitted ONLY if clubs and facilities can abide by all of the below health requirements:
NZRL will provide further guidance regarding return to rugby league activity for Auckland and any further update on the National 20s competition when possible (subject to Government updates).
The health and wellbeing of our communities remain the priority. Please wear a mandatory face mask if taking public transport and continue to abide by the above health and safety requirements.
Thank you for your ongoing co-operation and understanding during this time.
28 February 2021
As of 6am this morning the Auckland region is back at Alert Level 3 for the next seven days meaning all rugby league activity (training and playing) in the region is suspended.
The remainder of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2 where gatherings are restricted to groups of 100 and physical distancing of two metres for those not on the field is observed.
As result, the NZRL National 20s game between Northland and the South Island scheduled for 2pm at Nga Puna Wai today will have no crowds.
NZRL will provide an update regarding the remainder of the National 20s schedule in the next 24 hours.
Any person feeling unwell should stay home and if they present with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms should contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to see if they need a test.
Click here for full Ministry of Health guidelines and advice.
27 February 2021
A late surge saw Auckland Blue beat Central Districts 34-18 in the opening round of the NZRL National 20s at Opaheke Sports Park.
After trailing 18-12 at the break, Auckland Blue fought back with four second-half tries to record victory.
Earlier Central Districts prop Memphis Hennessy opened the scoring after just two minutes, before Auckland hit back via Stanley Iongi and Samuel Hansen.
But Central Districts didn’t go away and hooker Wyatt So-otaga sliced through defence to score on the 26th minute followed by another four-pointer to Kayin Katene to give them an 18-12 lead at half time.
In the second spell the momentum shifted when co-captain Zyon Maiu’u burrowed over on the 46th minute, before Iongi crossed for his second to extend the lead to 24-18.
Minutes later Maiu’u crashed over again, followed by a try to Mangere East’s Junior Moli to secure victory.
Halfback Caleb Laiman was excellent off the boot, converting all but one try.
Auckland Blue will play Wai-Coa-Bay at Rotorua International Stadium in Rd 2 next Saturday.
Auckland Blue 34 (Stanley Iongi x2, Samuel Hansen, Zyon Maiu’u x2, Junior Moli tries; Caleb Laiman x5 conversions) def. Central Districts 18 (Memphis Hennessy, Wyatt So-otaga, Kayin Katene tries; Brooklyn Herewini x3 conversions) at Opaheke Sports Park.
24 February 2021
New Zealand Rugby League will kick off its inaugural National 20s Competition this Saturday 27 February when Auckland Blue take on Central Districts at 2pm Opaheke Auckland, followed by Waicoa Bay v Auckland White at Rotorua International Stadium 4pm.
Sunday 28th will see the South Island take on Northland at 12pm down at Nga Puna Wai Stadium in Christchurch.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport 4, and for Australian viewers games available on Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL.
NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony says: “We have been working hard to improve the pathways we provide for our young rugby league players in New Zealand.”
“Our rangatahi are vital to the domestic and professional success of the code, the average age of an NRL debutant is now 21, so it’s crucial we are developing and strengthening this age group as much as we can at home. This competition also allows coaches, managers, trainers and match officials to gain further development and experience.
“The 20s Competition allows us to foster budding rugby league talent from up and down the country and the potential NZRL 2022 SG Ball team adds another layer of incentive for our young players.”
Saturday 27th FebAuckland Blue v Central Districts – 2pm Opaheke Auckland Waicoa Bay v Auckland White – 4pm Rotorua International Stadium Sunday 28th FebSouth Island v Northland – 12pm Nga Puna Wai Christchurch