31 October 2021
It was a North v South battle in the National Competition Bronze final between the Wellington Orcas and Otago Whalers.
The Wellington Orcas opened the scoring through Sam Filippo, who scored a double within the first ten minutes.
Despite the slow start, once the Southerners got their hands on the ball, they never looked back, scoring 28 unanswered points. The Whalers had all the momentum leading 28 – 10 at the break.
An unfortunate Wellington error under the high ball saw Otago jump on a loose carry to open the scoring for the final forty, extending their lead by 24 points.
It was the Whalers with all the confidence as a series of offloads put Jake Fowler over for his second and Otago’s seventh only five minutes into the second stint.
The Orcas found momentum scoring their first four-pointer since the opening ten minutes, decreasing the margin to 26. A confidence boost saw Bronson Marino cheekily plant their fourth shortly after.
Two conversion misses from the Orcas kept the score 40 – 18 with 20 to go.
The Southerners put any chance of a comeback to bed as they went on to score two unanswered four-pointers. Wellington had the final say on the full-time hooter, but the Whalers got the win with a convincing 50 – 22 victory.
10 October 2021
The Otago Whalers grabbed their first victory in 2021, connivingly beating the West Coast Chargers 56-4. Peter Johnstone Park played host as the home team got out to an early 16-4 lead and did not look back. The Whalers piled on the pressure and showed a professional display avenging their defeat to Southland in Round 1.
A tight, back and forth affair between the Orca Women and Mid-Central Viper Women ended in a 22-12 win for the Orcas side. The Vipers struck four minutes into the game to put them up 4-0 until the home side hit back with a try of their own. Wellington scored crucial tries on both sides of the break to firmly put them in the driver’s seat before a late score saw Mid-Central enter the fray once again. The Orcas then put the game to bed just before the full-time siren and earned their first win of the campaign, as the Vipers dropped to 0-2.
Wainuiomata hosted Men’s National clash between the Wellington Orcas and the Mid-Central Vipers, as both teams got into the wrestle early. The sides both traded scores going blow for blow until a penalty for Wellington gave them an opportunity to score and open the floodgates. Wellington went on to score 30 unanswered points as they asserted themselves into the game and began to show their class. The Mid-Central side hit back with a beautiful chip and chase to bring them to within 14, but an error from the Vipers let the Orca’s back in and scored three straight to finish off the game.
Nga Puna Wai played host to the one Sunday National Competition game due to Covid postponements, where favourite Canterbury Bulls faced the hearty Southern Rams.
The first half was an impressive arm wrestle between the two South Island teams. Pio Ioane opened the scoring for the home-side Bulls but a determined Korey Pennicott answered straight back for the Rams. Ethan Plasskett put the Bulls back in front before Penitito Ilalio scored an intercept try defusing what would have been a guaranteed Southern four-pointer. The Ram’s answered back as Jiuta Navakuka jumped on a beautiful in goal grubber from half-back Anisoni Kaufononga, bringing it back to a four-point game. The Ram’s attitude never wavered forcing a plague of Bull’s errors as the home team were unable to capitalise on field position. The halftime hooter sounded as Canterbury held on to a 16-12 lead.
Sincere got the scoring underway for the home team in the second forty but the Ram’s answered straight back through star halfback Anisoni Kaufononga, bringing it back to a four-point game. A series of tough calls went against the Rams and the Bulls capitalised. Momentum was with the home side for the remainder of the half as the Bulls came away with a 38 – 18 win.
24 September 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the 2021 National Competition will kick off this weekend, albeit in a revised format.
This year’s National Competition amalgamates both Premiership and Championship divisions into a singular competition consisting of regional pools.
The regional pool format means teams outside of Auckland can begin playing this weekend, while Auckland teams can join when Covid levels allow, without disrupting the flow of the competition.
The 2021 Men’s National Competition consists of three regional pools:
Monday, October 4, the government is set to make a decision on Auckland’s Alert Level. If Level 3 is extended, the Northland / Auckland pool will not compete in this year’s National Competition.
Saturday 30 October will see 1st Men’s Central take on 1st Men’s South Island and 2nd Men’s Central take on 2nd Men’s South Island. If the Northern pool cannot compete, this will be the Men’s National Competition final and runner up match.
If the Northern pool can compete due to a successful Alert Level change on October 4, the winner of the 1st Central v 1st South Island final will go on to play 1st place in the Northern pool on Sunday, November 7, to which the winner will be crowned National Men’s Champions.
The 2021 Sky Sport Women’s National Competition follows a similar format where both Premiership and Championship divisions have been amalgamated to form a singular competition consisting of two regional pools.
The Central pool will kick off next Saturday, October 2, while the Northland pool will kick off Sunday, October 17, subject to Auckland successfully moving down Alert Levels, post-October 4 announcement.
The Sky Sport Women’s National Competition Final will take place before the National Men’s Final on Sunday, November 7.
If the Northern pool cannot compete due to an extended Level 3, the Women’s National Competition Final will see 1st play 2nd of the Central pool. If Northern can partake, the final will see top of the Central pool take on top of the Northern pool, to which the winner will be crowned Women’s National Champions.
NZRL is also exploring the possibility of running the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in Q1 of 2022 if the Northern pool cannot compete this year.
Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL, says, “Despite the disruptions the pandemic has brought, for the second year in a row, it’s exciting we can present a 2021 National Competition.”
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their continuous support of our game, as well as all our Zones and Districts who have been understanding of the task at hand. Restructuring the National Competition is no easy feat, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without everyone’s input and co-operation.”
“We look forward to seeing players take the field for their regions after disrupted seasons across the country, and fingers crossed Auckland can join down the line”, he adds.
“We encourage everyone to continue to follow health and safety protocol and thank all of our communities for their ongoing patience and understanding during these times.”
The South Island Men’s pool kicks off this weekend when the West Coast Chargers take on the Southland Rams, Saturday 25th September, 2:30 pm at Wingham Park, Greymouth.
The Central Men’s and Women’s pools kick off next Saturday, October 2, with a doubleheader at Davies Park, Huntly. Waikato Men will take on the Wellington Orcas, following the Upper Central Zone Women v Wellington Women.
Not all National Competition games will be televised live on Sky Sport; NZRL will provide further information on where and how to watch each game when the complete draws are released early next week.
Northland has decided not to compete in this year’s 2021 National Competition, however, we look forward to seeing them return in 2022.
No crowds are permitted at any Men’s or Women’s National Competition games under Alert Level 2.