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Counties Manukau end great Auckland era

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Lynn McConnell     02 Oct 2016     Getty Images

Auckland had lost only one final since the competition started in 1999, to Wellington in 2006.

The Counties Manukau faithful knew Woodman's try pushed the game beyond the reach of Auckland and all the winning experience they had accrued.

In the heavy conditions after the torrential early-morning rain, Counties Manukau didn't often unleash their backline but after good lead-up work by lock Rawinia Everitt and centre Badinlee Munro-Smith, Woodman took the ball at speed, bumping of NZ Sevens team-mate Tyla Nathan-Wong, before running over for the sixth Counties Manukau try.

Counties Manukau turned on the power from the outset and had two tries within the first six minutes.

The first, to No.8 Krystal Murray came from a tap penalty five metres out from the goal-line and Murray at first received had too much power for the Auckland defence.

Counties Manukau kicked back into Auckland territory from the re-start and pressure from chasing runners paid off and from an Auckland lineout, the throw was knocked to the Counties Manukau side. Dummy halfback Sharnita Woodman took the ball and a big gap in the lineout and fed inside to Aroha Savage who crossed wide out.

Hazel Tubic landed a superb sideline conversion.

But Auckland came back as first five-eighths Kiritapu Demant took the ball to the line and passed to No.8 Charmaine McMenamin who sped into the gap to feed hooker Fiao'o Fa'amausili in for a try after 10 minutes.

Counties Manukau got back onto attack and from a lineout just out from the Auckland line they mounted a drive and it was Woodman who went over in the drive.

There was much more free-flowing play in the lead-up to the fourth Counties Manukau try which followed first five-eighth's Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali's run to the line where she linked with flanker Aroha Savage and she found hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aeremengamate with room on the flank in a strong run to the corner to score in the 28th minute.

Emma Jensen showed all her experience in the first moments of the second half when choosing to run from the base of a ruck on the Auckland 22m area and the defence opened up for the easiest of tries.

A similar parting of the defensive tide occurred two minutes later at the other end of the field, from a ruck, home first five-eighths Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali got the ball, threw the most audacious dummy which was taken for her to stroll through for the easiest of tries.

Auckland drew closer when executing a lineout move with McMenamin running into a gap in the lineout to catch Counties Manukau napping and she drove over for a try that reduced the score to 36-22.

Scorers: Counties Manukau 41 (Krystal Murray, Aroha Savage, Sharnita Woodman, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Portia Woodman tries; Hazel Tubic 4 con, pen) Auckland 22 (Fiao'o Fa'amausili, Emma Jensen, Charmain McMenamin tries; Jensen 2 con, pen). HT: 26-10.