01 October 2023

The Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays battled it out for the NZRL National Premiership title at Pukekohes’ Navigation Homes this Sunday afternoon.

However, it was the Vulcans that steamrolled the first forty minutes with nine consecutive tries in a clinical attacking display that never wavered.

The Vulcans scored five quick tries in the first 15 minutes of the half through co-captain Francis Leger, Levi Atiga, Samuel Desmond and other co-captain Simone Feao, who earned a double.

The Counties’ defence struggled to keep up with the Vulcans attacking momentum. Fullback Sefanaia Cowley-Lupo went over for Auckland’s fifth with consecutive tries shortly after to Freedom Vahaakolo and Patrick Sipley.

With a 38-0 score line in the 30th minute, Counties finally found possession. However, a lost ball over the try line saw points go begging. The Vulcans answered back quickly with a try to centre Fiohiva Faingaa, making it 44-0 at the break, a tough hill to climb for the depleted Stingrays.

The Vulcans opened the second half with a try to Levi Atiga, but the Stingrays’ second-rower, Ngarima Pita, finally put Counties on the board through a barging run up the middle, making it 50-6.

Vulcans co-captain Sione Feao answered back quickly with his hattrick as the Auckland dominance continued. Further tries to Sam Ngati, Makaia Tafua and a fourth to Sione Feao sealed the win 70-6.

The Auckland Vulcans were crowned NZRL National Premiers in a clinical 14-try display over Counties Manukau.