23 October 2022

NZ Clubs flawless in their victory over NZ Schools at North Harbour’s QBE Stadium.

Both teams got into the wrestle early but a costly penalty allowed left side centre Paris Pickering to open the games account on the next set.

Clubs winger Kyla Lynch Brown then buffed the advantage as Clubs went up 10-0. Youth Tournament MVP and Counties fullback Tamisha Tulua then found herself in some space as she went under the post, Clubs owning all the ascendency in the first half.

Another set on the School’s line saw Akarana’s Tatiana Finau crash over on the right edge before Paris Pickering finished off a left hand shift to dummy the fullback and put the Clubs side up 28-0 going into the sheds.

Tulua continued where they left off scoring from within a minute of the second half and the Clubs side didn’t look back.

Lynch Brown added to her tally as well as Claudia Finau, Ronise Matini and Kimoana Niupalau as they recorded a famous 50-0 victory.


Tries: Pickering, Lynch Brown x2, Tulua x2, T Finau, C Finau, Matini, Niupala

Conversions: T Finau 7/9



23 October 2022

Kiwi Ferns Mya Hill-Moana and Kararaina Wira-Kohu took the opportunity to speak to all three New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) girls’ teams last night ahead of the first-ever national representative matches today at the North Harbour Stadium.

The U16 grade will see Auckland Invitational play against Aotearoa Whaanui at 12.00pm, while the U18 NZRL Clubs and Schools match kicks off at 2.00pm.

Both games are free to attend and LIVE on Sky Sport.

Mya (20), an NRLW Premiership-winner and Māori All Star, started her journey in Huntly at the Taniwharau Rugby League Club before making her way up the ranks in rangatahi (youth) tournaments, Waikato-based competitions and New Zealand Māori Rugby League fixtures.

“It was cool to speak to the girls because it reminded me of where I was at their age and how I started. I felt like I was able to give back to them by talking about my experiences,” Mya said.

“This certain campaign is awesome because it provides our girls with the opportunity to be scouted from everywhere.

“It’s growing the women’s game from a young age and preparing them for what’s to come, they’re already wearing the fern and the kiwi on their uniform this weekend.”

For Kararaina (30), who debuted for the Kiwi Ferns in 2020 v Fetu Samoa, her pathway looked quite different to Mya’s.

“My beginnings were opposite to Mya and I mean that in the most respectful way, where I come from in Northland (Whangarei) it’s union-based,” Kararaina said.

“But it’s nice to see a lot of young girls playing in U14-U18 grades now, making these games a win for women’s rugby league in general. More teams mean more opportunities for girls filtering through these channels.

“This is something we didn’t have when I was playing which is massive for the growth and development of not only players but the staff too.”

NZRL Head of Women’s Rugby League Luisa Avaiki Tavesivesi was a driving force behind the success of these matches, a long-standing dream for the former Kiwi Fern

“It was awesome to hear both Mya and Kat speak not only because they’re playing at the highest level but because they came through their own grassroots routes respectively,” Tavesivesi said.

“The female game is so important to us, with the Kiwi Ferns in mind these pathways have been developed not just for our rangatahi but to improve everyone including coaches, referees and administrators.

“What that means is if our emerging talent, even from the youngest age, get opportunities to develop and be their best in competitive competitions it’s only going to improve our Kiwi Ferns system.

“I’m proud, it’s actually kind of emotional to know our young girls are in a campaign just like we are at the Kiwi Ferns right now.

“There’s also so many obstacles we have had to go through to make these fixtures happen, when you see the product and the players are excited to play it makes all the work worth it.”

The Kiwi Ferns are headed to the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in York, England on Tuesday, October 25.










April 10, 2022


The Mid Central Vipers played host to the Canterbury Bulls in the final round of the SkySport Women’s Premiership as both teams clashed at Palmerston Norths’ Central Energy Trusts Arena.

Canterbury was the first to strike as a strong kick return from Bulls standout Mikayla Werahiko put the South Island side in striking distance. Off the ensuing play fullback, Dayna Napa went over breaking through a scrambling Vipers defense to go up 4-0.

Werahiko then got herself on the scoresheet attacking a cross-field kick to go over untouched in the corner. Moments later half Cassie Siataga hung another cross-field kick up, this time to the right-hand side which took a wicked bounce, falling into the lap of winger Sailai Pau to put the Bulls up by 12.

In the 13th minute, Mid Central hit back through hooker Paris Paul whose craftiness and footwork out of dummy half saw her beat several defenders to score under the post as the Vipers brought it to 12-6.

Mid Central started the second stanza in good stead and this paid off in the 45th minute as middle Agnes Faraimo barged over close to the line to level the scores.

Canterbury though off the back off Vipers mistakes crushed any momentum as Talosaga Manu crashed over in the same vein as Faraimo to put the Bulls up by a converted try. With ten minutes left to go, number 19 Theresa McPherson went over in the corner which proved to be the dagger as Canterbury went out 22-12 winners.





Tries: Napa, Werahiko, Pau, Manu, McPherson


Conversions: Siataga (1/5)




Tries: Paul, Faraimo


Conversions: Bates (2/2)


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)

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

Why do you play league?

I love the physical challenge the game offers and the people I play with.


What got you into the game? 

My first introduction to league was when I was six playing for my uncles’ team.  After my first season we ended up moving north there was no comp for kids, so I ended up playing rugby instead.


How long have you been playing for? 

I’ve been playing women’s for around 5 years


What do you do outside of league?

I’m a mum of two, I work for a Maori Charitable Trust, Te Tihi o Ruahine Whanau Ora Navigation Alliance.  I dabble in a few other sports rugby, touch and I like to do a bit of CrossFit and boxing as well.


What are your biggest highlights or proudest moments?

Watching my 11yr old daughter Emerald play league, she is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants, shes amazing!. Winning the Wellington Women’s League Comp with my friends.  Winning this year’s Manawatu women’s rugby club comp with my club Kia Toa.


What advice would you give to young girls wanting to get into league?

Give it a go!…you’ll love it.


What are your goals? 

To stay injury-free and make semi-finals for nationals


What are you looking forward to most about the National Women’s Tournament? 

Playing with my mates!



By Will Evans – Canterbury Rugby League

Cushla Nukunuku has more motivation than most of Canterbury’s rookie representatives ahead of the NZRL National Women’s Tournament.

The Linwood Keas prop/second-rower will make her provincial debut in Auckland next week, which shapes as the highlight of a season she has dedicated to the memory of her mum, Lena Nukunuku, who passed away two years ago this month.

“This is probably going to be my last year playing, but I’m really happy that I’ve finally got to represent Canterbury and play for my mum – I feel like she would be so proud of me,” Nukunuku says.

Nukunuku reveals that she gained her initial first-hand exposure to rugby league thanks to her mum, who played for Woolston Rams.

“When I think about it, I love the smell of deep heat and liniment – it reminds me of going into the changing sheds.

“I played a bit of social league way back when, but there was no competition then in Canterbury. Woolston Rams used to have a past versus present game, so I would play for mum.”

The 32-year-old mother of three has earned a maiden call-up for Canterbury midway through her third season of rugby league and is thriving in the representative environment so far.

“I love it, actually. You get to know the players from the other clubs better,” she explains.

“(Usually) you only get to meet them on the field – and it’s like ‘I’m gonna smash you’. Now it’s like, ‘yeah smash her – but don’t hurt her!’”

“I played rugby (union) for eight years and felt like I wasn’t really learning as much anymore, so three seasons ago I thought I’d give league a go, and I love it.”

If Nukunuku transfers the passion she displays at club level to the rep stage, Canterbury’s rivals are in for a torrid time at the National Women’s Tournament.

She played in Linwood’s 2017 CRL Grand Final loss to Papanui and backed up for last year’s decider, when the Keas turned the tables on the Tigers 36-33 in an epic contest at Rugby League Park.

“Green and black is life to me – Linwood Bulls (rugby union team) and Linwood Keas is just home.

“(Winning the Grand Final) was the best feeling in the world. I can’t even express to the girls that are just new to the Keas this year about how much different it is when you go and play a Grand Final. It’s just amazing.”

Nukunuku has tried to take on more a leadership role in a new-look Keas squad in 2019.

“I feel like the smallest things in someone’s game – like at kick-offs, standing on the right angle so if you do drop the ball it goes backwards – it’s a small thing, but it could be (the difference in) winning a game,” she says.

“We’ve got Saga (Manu) and Lupe (Manu) who play for the Keas and also got selected for Canterbury, and I try to take them under my wing. Lovely, lovely girls and just small things like that, they’re like, ‘oh, that’s awesome’.”

But despite being one of the older members of both the Linwood and Canterbury teams, Nukunuku still finds inspiration from some of her experienced teammates.

She nominated one current clubmate, Kiwi Ferns and Samoa rep Sui Pauaraisa, and one ex-Kea, Cassie Siataga, now with Burnham Chevaliers, as her biggest rugby league inspirations.

“Sui, who doesn’t look up to her? She’s my age and she’s just 110 percent all the time. Even at training. She’s always lifting girls up.

“Not having Sui around because she’s constantly travelling with the Samoa league and rugby teams is a bit of a downer, so I’m looking forward to her coming back (for Canterbury). It’s going to be really good for the team, for morale.

“She’s played for Samoa, played for the Warriors and got called up for the Kiwis last year as well, so it brings a lot of good vibes for our girls.

“I also look up to ‘BC’ (Siataga). I just think she’s an amazing player, she just makes things look so easy. It’s almost like she glides on the field – anything with the ball really, she’s just really talented.

“If you ever need tips, she’s always willing to help out whoever. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on.”

But reuniting with Pauaraisa and Siataga is just one of myriad reasons Nukunuku is buzzing ahead of next week’s competition.

She is set to have her own personal cheer squad on the sidelines at Pulman Park.

“I’m trying to convince my partner to take some time off work for him and the kids to come up, because his family is from Huntly,” Nukunuku says.

“They’re all coming, his friends from there are coming to watch.

“As a mum, it’s sad because we leave on Thursday and I’m going to miss my kids, but then it’s also a bit of holiday. But you’ve got to work really hard as well.

Nukunuku relishes the physical side of rugby league. A winger in the 2017 Grand Final and a centre in last year’s decider, increasing her involvement in the more confrontational aspects of the game was behind her shift to the forwards this season.

But with up to five games to play over three days next weekend for the Canterbury team – who are aiming to build on their impressive third-place finishes in 2017-18 – as well as squaring off against the best players from the North Island for the first time, the National Women’s Tournament looms as a new challenge for Nukunuku.

“I’ve had tournaments for Canterbury Maori for rugby (union), but I haven’t had a full-on tournament like this before,” she enthuses.

“I’m excited to see the other teams and what they bring to the tournament – and also be able to smash people and not get in trouble!

“Even though I’ll be like, ‘oh snap, am I going to be at (the opposition players’) level’, I’m so, so excited. I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to go into a tackle, or how am I going to chase that person down.

“All in all, I’m trying not to psyche myself out, but I think it’s excitement more than anything.”

The Mike Linton-coached Canterbury team’s NZRL National Women’s Tournament campaign kicks off at Pulman Park in Auckland on Friday, July 26 with an 11am clash against Mid Central Vipers, before facing the might of Akarana Falcons at 3pm.

When did you debut for the Kiwi Ferns?

2008 World Cup

How many tests have you played?

14 I think. 2008 – 2013 I played in two World Cups and all the tests in-between. Then I took a break and have just returned this year.

How does it feel to represent your country?

It’s the highest honour in our sport and the feeling is nothing but pure pride. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your job in youth justice? What does that entail?

My role as a Youth Justice Coordinator is to hold Young People aged 14-17 accountable for their alleged criminal offending.

I convene and facilitate Family Group Conferences that involve the Young Person, Whanau and professionals i.e. Lawyers, Police, Social Workers, Victims, Lay Advocates and Community Organisations etc.

Collectively our main goal is for our young people not to re-offend, we try to do that by building a support system and plan around the young person and their whanau. Having the victim of their crime participate in this restorative justice process is a key component to positive outcomes for all.  

Offences can range from an unlawful getting into a motor vehicle which is a penalty of two years imprisonment right through to aggravated robbery which is 14 years imprisonment. 

How long have you been doing this?

I have worked with young people in different capacities for the past six years but have been in this particular role for one year.

Why did you get into this occupation?

After working in a corporate space for so long, I wanted to utilise the skills I learnt there and invest these skills into young people and their whanau in my community. I grew up in Mangere, so working in South Auckland with our most vulnerable is familiar and my way of giving back to a community I love.

What do you love most about it?

I love seeing young people and their whanau succeed!!

Do find it challenging to balance rugby league and your professional career? If so, why?

Previously I did, I have only returned to league this year after a 6-year break as I wanted to focus on my family and career.

For me, balancing family life and Rugby League is much harder than juggling my professional career. It’s harder because we have a young family and my husband does shift work, so my training schedule one week is early mornings and then the following week it will be nights after the kids have gone to bed, plus all the normal duties in between but I love my life and my family – we know how to make it work for us.

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.

Why do you play league? 

My bread and butter was actually in Rugby Union, and I decided to venture over to Rugby League this year because I wanted to learn a new code, meet new people, test my capabilities both skill and character to truly see whether I had what it took to play professionally.

What got you into the game?

Funnily enough, it was through current Kiwi Fern and Warriors representative Georgia Hale and also former Kiwi Fern Alex Cook that planted the seed so I put my hand up to give league a go. I played Rugby Union both 15s and 17s with Georgia & Alex and over the years they had dropped the idea here and there, now it’s really happening.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced when it comes to playing league?

There are quite a few challenges that I have to face in Rugby League. In terms of the game itself; when you’ve only ever played one sport it can be extremely difficult changing your mindset to fit the code. Everything I have been taught in Rugby Union has basically gone out the door. For example, Learning new terminology, style of running, running lines, strategy of play and new techniques – especially around tackling & playing the ball.

To illustrate how green I am to league I didn’t know what “markers” were and that you had to roll the ball between your legs with your foot. Having to remind myself to get back 10m on defence and that you don’t form rucks at a breakdown or form mauls whilst only have six tackles is mentally challenging to break those behaviours.

From where I started to now, I am utterly thankful for the support and guidance from Victor Heke, my coach and mentor, and I’m especially grateful to my teammates from Mt Albert Rugby League Club. I have learnt so much and been embraced by them as though I was their family member. This has immensely helped me to become comfortable in the game and showcase what I am capable of.

Because I’ve only been in Rugby League for a few months and have been given the highest accolade to represent the Warriors in NRL and also New Zealand means another big challenge is actually having to learn the game at sprint rather than picking up things over seasons in which generally happens.

What advice would you give to young girls wanting to get into league?

I would encourage them to jump in with both feet, even if you’re scared because I’m an adult and I still get scared of the unknown. The best part about trying something new is that you can say you’ve done it. It’s a really brave thing to put yourself into a new environment with new people and for me, I’ve been blessed with a whole new group of friends that are now family, I’ve learnt new skills and found a true love for Rugby League.

So take a deep breath, be brave and jump in with both feet.

What’s your occupation?

Cultural Strategist in an IT Firm

What does this entail?

My role involves looking at user behaviours within organisations in order to better implement technology. My drive for what I do is about people. In my eyes, the most important thing in this world is people and as the demand for technology continues to increase, I believe we need to keep people at the forefront of our priorities.

Furthermore, I am also designing alongside my Aunt, an App that requires a large portion of time and energy.

How long have you been doing this?

4.5 years at V-dito

What got you into it?

Family. I studied psychology and I ended up falling into the role. I knew nothing about technology but I do understand human behaviour.

What do you love most about it?

There are two things: Firstly, helping my family prosper financially. Secondly, working with people because I genuinely care about putting people first through empathy, authenticity and logic.

By incorporating both of these means, I am theoretically in my dream job.

Do you find balancing your job and rugby league difficult? If so, why?

The challenges I face in regards to my career is that I work 24/7. With my Rugby League timetable and requirements, I can work remotely, but it doesn’t mean work stops. Whether I’m on my cellphone or laptop, I am connected at all times. People don’t necessarily understand why I do what I do, and to me that’s fine. Why I work so hard is because the business I work for is a family business so the biggest motivator for me is my family. We’ve come a less than fortunate place and for me, we aren’t going back. In my eyes, if our business is successful, my entire family prospers.

Nothing means more to me than making my family proud and with me playing and training at the highest level possible in league and working to feed the business; it is a privilege. I continuously pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.

What’s your professional goal?

My professional goal is to eventually start my own business.

What’s your rugby league goal?

I want to silence the naysayers and prove that through hard work, you can achieve great things. I don’t have the Kalyn Ponga flare or a crazy Benji Marshall whack, but I have an insane work ethic.

I’ve had four ACL reconstructions on my right knee (the last one was 2017) I was told that I would never be able to play a pivoting sport again and at that point, I decided what my body is capable of doing and through that mentality and never give up attitude that has got me onto this platform.

I’m a firm believer that we are the decider of what we can and cannot do. 

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.

The annual NZRL National Women’s Tournament sees the best female rugby league talent from across the country come together to represent their zones in Auckland.

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.






RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
1 26 July Counties Manukau Stingrays vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 2 11.00 am
1 26 July Canterbury vs Miid-Central Vipers 3 11.00 am
1 26 July Akarana Falcons vs Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 1 12.15 pm


RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
2 26 July Mid-Central Vipers vs Counties Manukau Stingrays 1 14.00 pm
2 26 July Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 2 15.00 pm
2 26 July Akarana Falcons vs Canterbury 3 15.00 pm



RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
3 27 July Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions vs Mid-Central Vipers 3 09.30 am
3 27 July Counties Manukau Stingrays vs Akarana Falcons 2 09.30 am
3 27 July Canterbury vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 1 10.30 am


RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
Game 2


27 July 1st Group B vs 2nd Group A 3 13:00 pm
Game 1
27 July 1st Group A vs 2nd Group B 1 13:00 pm



RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
5th/6th Play off 28 July 3rd Group A vs 3rd Group B 3 10.30 am
3rd /4th Play off 28 July Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 2 2 11.30 am
Grand Final 28 July Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2 1 13.05 pm





Without batting an eye lid, National Women’s Tournament Grand-finalists Counties and Akarana took on the stormy conditions at Cornwall Park and it was Counties who came out on top to win their ninth successive title.

This year’s victory was extra special for Kiwi Fern veteran Laura Mariu who also celebrates her naming on the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced today.

Big-hits and classy tricks were on display with Counties drawing first blood after the opening 20 minutes was spent in the middle of the field, neither team ready to give their opposition a look in. That was until Counties left winger Sarah Filimoeatu sealed herself a try putting first points on the board – the defending champions up by four as they headed into the break.

Five minutes into the second half and Counties were one man down with half Kimiora Nati being sent off for a professional foul.

Akarana took full advantage with Billy-Jean Ale leveling the scoreboard with a try beside the post, 4-4.

An off-load from Kimiora Nati sent Onjeurlina Leiataua, who picked up the MVP of the tournament award, over the line to take an 8-4 lead which was then converted by Nati to take it to 10-4.

And from there, it was full steam ahead for Counties who sealed the deal with one more try to Sarah Filimoeatu who picked up her second four pointer of the day, the final score being 14-4.

To watch the livestream, click here.



Back of the Tournament – Apii Nicholls-Pualau (Counties)

Forward of the Tournament – Karley Te Kawa (Akarana)

MVP of the Tournament – Onjeurlina Leiataua (Counties)

MVP of the Final – Chrystal Tamarua (Akarana)

Coach of the Tournament – Rod Ratu (Counties)

Trainer of the Tournament – Vili Johnson (Auckland Vulcans)

Finals Day scores:

5th & 6th play-off: Wai-Coa-Bay 8 (Lavinia McGee-Repia, Te Kowhai Boynton tries) – Wellington 0

3rd & 4th play-off: Canterbury 13 (Cassie Siataga 2 tries; Cassie Siataga goal; Cassie Siataga field goal) Auckland 12 (Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell, Leanne Gardiner tries; Aleisha Taylor 2 goals)

Grand-Final: Counties 14 (Sarah Filimoeatu 2, Onjeurlina Leiataua tries; Kimiora Nati goal)  Akarana 4 (Billy-Jean Ale try)

Plagued by torrential rain and gail force winds, day two of the National Women’s Tournament at Cornwall Park brought plenty of spills, thrills and moments of brilliance.

In what will be a repeat of last year’s final, the Counties Manukau Stingrays will come up against the Akarana Falcons in hopes of securing their ninth successive national title.


This morning’s first game saw Akarana take on Wellington in a game many wouldn’t have predicted to have been so close. Akarana’s strong defence held Wellington down in their own half for the majority of the first half. Those efforts resulting in the first four points on the board through Akarana’s stand-off, Alice Vailea who scored by the post.

Akarana’s sheer ability to force errors at crucial times put the pressure on Wellington to get the basics right – and that they did. Wellington shifted into second gear meeting their opposition’s defensive line at speed, forcing errors from the Akarana camp only metres out from their try-line.

A risky offload by Wellington in their own half saw Akarana score after a solid carry by Billy-Jean Ale carrying two with her all the way to the try-line – score 8-0.

It wasn’t till later in the first half when Wellington decided to surge. By completing their sets and applying pressure to Akarana’s defence, Wellington’s Jayme Nuku managed to get their first points on the board converting her own try to make it 8-6 right before half time.

The second half saw Wellington give away several penalties and of course Akarana capitalised with Laishon Jones putting her hand up for a four-pointer.

Despite Wellington’s Mahalia Polson running in their second converted try of the game, Akarana held on by the skin of their teeth securing a close 14-12 victory.

Another close encounter was the Canterbury v Wai-Coa-Bay decider which would see the winner take on Counties in a semi-final, a crucial game for both teams who were desperate for a win.


It was Wai-Coa-Bay who began their tirade first with a strong set forcing a line drop-out however, a series of turnovers saw no significant field position for any team in the first half with a nil all scoreline heading into the break.

Back-to-back repeat sets for Canterbury in Wai-Coa-Bay’s half saw Cassie Siataga score a fabulous try running through a hole from a short ball. With eight minutes to go, Canterbury were up 4-0.

A beautiful set move from the scrum saw Canterbury strike again minutes later – 8-0. Wai-Coa-Bay were determined to have the last laugh although their final attempts weren’t enough to beat the Cantabrians, with Honey Hireme doing what she does best, running in a try on the final hooter – Final score 8-4.

With both Akarana and Counties winning their semi-finals convincingly, 22-0 and 50-0 respectively, many will watch on to see if Akarana will finally overcome the wrath of Counties to be crowned the 2018 National Women’s Tournament champions.


Counties v Canterbury livestream below:


Click here for photo album of day two

National Women’s Tournament – Day two 

Cornwall Park 

Sunday, 3 June 

Round three:

Akarana 14 – Wellington 12
Counties 12 – Auckland Vulcans 2
Canterbury 8 – Wai-Coa 4


Akarana 22 – Auckland 0

Counties 50 – Canterbury 0

Next games: Monday, 4 June 

Cornwall Park, Auckland 

5th & 6th playoff: Wellington v Wai-Coa-Bay – 10.30am

3rd & 4th playoff: Canterbury v Auckland – 11.30am

Final: Akarana v Counties – 1pm (livestreamed on NZRL Facebook page)


Defending champions, Counties Manukau Stingrays and the Akarana Falcons have once again marked their territory at day one of the National Women’s Tournament at Cornwall Park.

Standings after day one below:


Saturday’s action sees Counties at the top of Pool A on four points after two big wins against the Wellington Orcas (28-0) and Wai-Coa-Bay (40-0) keeping both of their oppositions scoreless in round one.

In the first game of the day, Counties served Wellington a 28-0 beating drawing inspiration from a structurally sound attacking line that scored off their first set through their fullback, Apii Nicholls-Pualau. Their forwards managed to lay a great platform for the outside backs to convert chances into points. Two more first half tries gave the defending champions a 16-0 lead at the break.

Immediately after the break Counties were able to pile on the points with two tries off their first two sets, jumping out to a 28-0 lead.

Counties’ tight defense allowed Wellington only a handful of opportunities, but mistakes cost them on almost every occasion.

However, after getting their first game jitters out of the way, Auckland’s cold winter breeze made the Wellington Orcas feel right at home in what turned out to be the closest match of the day – Wellington Orcas v Auckland Vulcans.

To view the livestream, click here. 

After an even opening period of the game, Wellington took advantage of their solid field position with a try to second-rower, Rikki Rawleigh. The Orcas left centre then took advantage of another scoring opportunity to extend their lead to 10-0.

Unfortunately for Auckland what seemed to be their best scoring chance quickly ended with what appeared to be a knee injury for their right centre, who had to be helped off the field.

After the break, a mistake from the Vulcans gifted the Orcas another chance and they capitalised, taking a commanding 14-0 lead.

Then came a shift in momentum. A surge in the final 20 minutes saw the Auckland Vulcans fight back to force a 14-all draw scoring three unanswered tries. That surge was ultimately sparked by former Kiwi Fern Lorina Papali’i and her sharp runs on attack that led to points on the board. The women’s rugby league veteran will be pleased with her performance as she returns to the field for the first time since retiring in 2010.

Wellington captain, Acacia Te Iwimate was named Mainstream Player of the Match after an outstanding game at hooker but admitted a lapse in defense cost them the win.

“We started off really well but against teams like the Vulcans, you can’t afford to go to sleep at any stage like we did. Of course, we’ve got to be happy with a draw, especially when it comes to an Auckland v Wellington battle.

“There were a couple of easy turnovers that we let slip at crucial times and they were able to counter-ruck off that and get the points so that will definitely be one of our work-ons going forward,” she said.

In Pool B, the Akarana Falcons lead with four points after beating Wai-Coa-Bay (24-0) and Canterbury (38-6) convincingly.

Akarana’s first try of the game came on the left wing for Lara Diamond-Brahne.

They then scored again off the ensuing set from kickoff, with a great slicing run from their second-rower, setting up a try for Tessa Wright.

Akarana began to pull away, with an overlap on the right side leading to a kick and chase. A great recovery from Luafalealo with a flick pass out the back to Diamond-Brahne extended their lead further with the winger running in her second try. Her impressive game saw her pick up the Mainstream Player of the Match.

Wayward passes and kicks, as well as several dropped balls didn’t work in Wai-Coa-Bay’s favour. Their strong defence helped set up numerous attacking opportunities, but all went begging as Akarana pulled on their great line speed to hold them scoreless.

A team that Akarana couldn’t keep scoreless was last year’s third place winners, Canterbury. A tight first half, one that Canterbury would be proud of, saw Akarana gain a narrow 8-6 lead.

The second half was a different story as the Falcons piled on the points. Their left side attack, which had been strong for most of the day produced a try produced another four points through left winger Tasha Tapu. Great running from the forwards in the middle opened the Canterbury defence up numerous times, and scoring chances flowed for Akarana. Final score being 38-6.

If Counties continue their winning streak, they could find themselves playing off for their ninth successive National Women’s Tournament title.

National Women’s Tournament – Day one 

Saturday, 2 June 2018 – Cornwall Park 

Round one:

Counties 28 – Wellington 0
Auckland Vulcans 16 – Canterbury 0
Akarana 24 – Wai-Coa 0

Round two:

Auckland Vulcans 14 – Wellington 14
Counties 40 – Wai-Coa 0
Akarana 38 – Canterbury 6

Photo Album from today’s games here

NZRL will keep you updated with results and ladders throughout the National Women’s Tournament on this weekend (2-4 June) at Cornwall Park.

Players will put their best foot forward in hopes of earning a spot in Kiwi Ferns wider squad of 30 which will be named at the conclusion of the tournament on Monday 4 June.

Teams this year include the Counties Manukau Stingrays, Wellington Orcas, Auckland Vulcans in Pool A and Canterbury, Akarana Falcons and Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions in Pool B.

Download the NZRL app on your iphone or android through the app store, and you’ll receive live notifications as the results come in. You can refer to LeagueNet (click here for link) for live scoring and results as they happen too.

There will also be daily wrap-up graphics on the NZRL Facebook page and the NZRL website. These wrap-ups will be accompanied by interviews with players so you don’t miss out on the action.

Thanks to passionate supporters of the women’s game, Mainstream for sponsoring $250 vouchers for the recipient of the ‘Player of the Round’ awards that will be given out after each round.

One game per day will be livestreamed on the NZRL Facebook page. These will include:

Day one 2 June, 2.30pm – Auckland Vulcans v Wellington Orcas

Day two 3 June, 1.30pm – 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B (Semi Final 1)

Day three 4 June, 1pm – Grand Final

Will the Counties Manukau Stingrays take out their ninth successive National Women’s Tournament title or will there be another team that takes the crown this year?



National Women’s Tournament – two weeks out

In her first appearance since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, Putaruru born Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme will play for the Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions at the National Women’s Tournament.

Hireme is no stranger to the women’s rugby league scene. She burst onto the world stage of women’s rugby league when she played in her first World Cup for the Kiwi Ferns in 2003 coming away as Champions. In the Kiwi Ferns’ third successive World Cup win, Hireme graced the Ferns line-up in 2008 and again when she captained the team in 2013. In the same year she also took away World Cup Player of the Tournament, an award she was also named as a finalist for during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Her name was in headlines during last year’s Rugby League World Cup racking up an impressive 13 tries over the tournament.


National Women’s Tournament – three weeks out

The National Women’s Tournament is three weeks away and NZRL are pleased to advise there will be one game livestreamed each day of the tournament.

Livestreamed games will include:

Day one 2 June, 2.30pm – Auckland Vulcans v Wellington Orcas
Day two 3 June, 1.30pm – 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B
Day three 4 June, 1pm – Grand Final

Teams this year include the Counties Manukau Stingrays, Wellington Orcas, Auckland Vulcans in Pool A and Canterbury, Akarana Falcons and Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions in Pool B.


The NZRL National Women’s Tournament is back in 2018. Queen’s Birthday weekend, 2-4 June will see women’s teams from throughout New Zealand battle out in hopes of being crowned the NZRL Women’s National champions.

Last year, the Counties Manukau Stingrays took out their eighth successive title in a nail biter against Akarana and it was standout fullback, Apii Nicholls-Pualau who was awarded Best Back of the Tournament earning her a spot in the Kiwi Ferns 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad. After outstanding performances on the world stage, she unsurprisingly went on to take out 2017 NZRL Women’s PLayer of the Year.

Five weeks out from this year’s National Women’s Tournament, we look forward to seeing all the talent on display that 2018 has to offer.