A massive set piece effort has seen Chiefs Manawa recover from a 16-point deficit to beat Hurricanes Poua 53-21 at the Levin Domain today.
The Poua couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, running wild within the first two minutes with a try to hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, after a strong run by World Cup final heroine Joanah Ngan-Woo. Straight off the kickoff, they were in again, with Ngan-Woo finding acres of space down the same left-wing channel and finding Ayesha Leti-I’iga to score with her first touch of the season. Both tries were converted by Carys Dallinger.
It didn’t take long for the defending Aupiki champions to strike back. A Chiefs Manawa set piece saw Luka Connor driven over to open their account.
A cross kick by Dallinger saw Leti-I’iga play the ball for former Black Ferns Sevens rep Rhiarna Ferris to show outstanding pace. She gunned 60 metres down the sideline to score the Poua’s third; however, Manawa stayed in touch when another good effort by the forwards saw Tanya Kalounivale crash over, then a sustained period of attack in the Poua 22 meant Kennedy Simon scored off a dominant five-metre scrum shove.
The Manawa excellence of execution at the scrum saw Poua prop Krystal Murray yellow-carded. A tighthead in the Poua 22 saw Conner get her second, and Manawa took a one-point lead into halftime.
Chelsea Bremner extended that cushion with another pick and go try, by that stage the Manawa set piece dominance was proving to be the ultimate difference. Georgia Daals streaked away to score, then Arihana Marino-Tauhinu pounced on a mistake by the Poua near their line to make the lead an unassailable 20 points.
Connor drove over for her hat trick, and fittingly the last try was Dhys Faleafaga crashing over from the back of another scrum; by then, the warning about just how difficult taking the Aupiki title off Manawa this year had well and truly been sounded.
Chiefs Manawa 53 (Luka Connor 3, Tanya Kalounivale, Kennedy Simon, Chelsea Bremner, Georgia Daals, Arihana Marino-Tauhinu, Dhys Faleafaga tries; Hazel Tubic 2, Tenika Willison 2 con)
Hurricanes Poua 21 (Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Rhiarna Ferris tries; Carys Dallinger 3 con)