Victory at last for Canterbury women

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Lynn McConnell     29 Oct 2017     Getty Images

Seven previous final losses were forgotten as Canterbury, who had been the dominant side throughout, achieved their win when No.8 Rebecca Todd scored her side's only try two minutes from the end after a determined run by fullback Olivia McGoverne kept a blindside move alive.


McGoverne, only moments earlier, had been denied a try herself when the ball beat her into touch in-goal.

Capping the try was a superb sideline conversion by key performer and halfback Kendra Cocksedge.

Cocksedge said afterwards it was her sixth final and first win but the team had dug deep. Canterbury had wanted to run the bigger Counties Manukau side around and she felt they deserved the win.

Counties Manukau suffered two yellow cards in the final and were guilty of indiscipline too often for their own comfort.

Counties Manukau suffered a setback before the game when first five-eighths Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali was forced out with an injury. Arihiana Marino moved out from halfback to fill her role while Yuki Ono came into the halfback position.

Canterbury did much of the first half attacking but were unable to find the goal-line, and that was down to some outstanding defence from the home side.

But Cocksedge led the way with clever kicking and decision-making while outside her first five-eighths Charntay Poko directing the play and unleashing mid-field players Lucy Anderson and Corrina Whiley on some strong runs.

Counties Manukau looked to use their forward power but they only managed one significant drive, late in the first half and on other occasions handling mistakes denied them the chance to build drives further.
Two minutes into the second half a high, and dangerous, tackle was made by second five-eighths Timara Leaf on Canterbury wing Grace Brooker a yellow card was inevitable.

Canterbury were unable to capitalise on the chance and by dint of their forward power Counties Manukau drove off their line and fullback Hazel Tubic's clearing kick took play beyond halfway.

The home team looked most dangerous when their huge props Aotearoa Matau and Leilani Perese mounted a powerful surge through the mid-field but as they got close to the Canterbury posts Anderson ripped the ball clear in a tackle and set in train the escape.

That ended at the other end of the field when, under advantage, Poko snapped over a 52-minute dropped goal to take Canterbury to a 6-0 lead.

There looked to be more trouble when lock Harono Iringa was sin-binned for a high tackle on Cocksedge at a lineout. Canterbury looked to move the ball soon after but a high pass by hooker Jess Hansen was picked off too easily by wing Lanulangi Veainu who raced 40m to score between the posts for Tubic's conversion to give Counties Manukau the lead 7-6 for the first time, 61 minutes into the game.

Counties Manukau hearts were in their mouths when Poko put a kick through to the goalline where McGoverne headed the chasing runners but wasn't able to touch the ball down before it was over the sideline.

Poko continued to use the boot to try and pin Counties Manukau back but Tubic's positional play, both to receive the kick and to make a crucial tackle,  denied the visitors earlier reward.

Canterbury poured on the pressure almost camping for the last 10 minutes in the Counties Manukau 22m area where the home team three times conceded penalties and eventually the Canterbury patience saw Todd have her final say.

Scorers: Counties Manukau 7 (Lanulangi Veainu try; Hazel Tubic con) Canterbury 13 (Rebecca Todd try; Kendra Cocksedge con, pen; Charntay Poko dropped goal). HT: 3-0