The Black Ferns and Poua No 11 scored the game’s only two tries, was busy and penetrative with the ball and punishing on defence. Her performance would have given Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore, who was on hand along with Sir Graham Henry at the venue, a smile or two.
The Hurricanes Poua’s display was full of determination, just over a week after a Covid-19 disrupted build-up saw the side have to cancel their opening fixture against the Blues.
While they had the initiative for most of the first half, leading 11-6 at the break, they had to withstand a more organised and concerted Matatū in the second spell and copped a yellow card to prop Marilyn Live.
Matatū, for their part, will be disappointed in not converting several chances when dominating ball and field position. Twice prop Pip Love lost the ball over the line, hooker Georgia Ponsonby planted the ball on Sarah Hirini’s foot, and they bombed another potential try out wide. All of which is not to deny the grit shown by the Poua, scrambling well in the wider channels and bruising in the tight exchanges.
Matatū had the breeze in the first half and the returning Kendra Cocksedge at halfback, who sought to lift the tempo by employing quick taps. But the Poua were equal to the task, trying to involve No 12 Monica Tagoai and the potent Leti-I’iga.
First five Carys Dallinger kicked accurately off the tee and again took the ball to the line, while the likes of Joanah Ngan-Woo and dynamic No 8 Kaipo Olsen-Baker offered prominent support.
Dallinger and Hirini had vital hands in Leti-I’iga’s first try, which went through several phases. Her second, at 56 minutes, put the exclamation point on the Poua’s win, a deadly finish and left foot step after a bounce pass. She had less room than she does with the Wellington Pride and her Ories club but proved she needs little space to be dangerous.
Matatū showed plenty of endeavour but were guilty of pushing passes. Their scrum was ascendant in the second half but they were not able to capitalise, even with an extra player. They weren’t able to create enough space for the likes of Grace Steinmetz or Renee Holmes, two outside backs crying out for front foot ball.
The Hurricanes Poua, the least favoured team prior to the competition, will be rightly overjoyed with their win, which takes them to third on the Aupiki table.
Hurricanes Poua 18 (Ayesha Leti-I’iga 2 tries; Carys Dallinger con, 2 pen) Matatū 6 (Kendra Cocksedge 2 pen) HT: 11-6 Hurricanes Poua