Matatū’s first-ever Aupiki home game was a memorable one, notching a thrilling 33-31 win over the Blues Women at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Searching for their first Aupiki win, Matatū came flying out of the blocks when the ball was kicked through that pinned the Blues just out from their 22. A turnover and great hands by Grace Brooker and Cindy Nelles saw Kendra Reynolds cross untouched for the first try.
Brooker was in action again not long after, linking up with Rosie Kelly to bust into the Blues’ 22, which eventually led to Alana Bremner matching her sister Chelsea’s try-scoring effort in the day's earlier game.
Kelly again provided an assist, this time with her boot, for the next Matatū try. After a lineout set up, the ball came to the first five, who sent a perfect kick over to the wing for Martha Mataele to dive over and extend the lead to 19-0. This finally stung the Blues into action, with the Black Ferns duo of Maiakawanakaulani Roos and Ruahei Demant combining to give Grace Gago enough space to crash over.
The deficit was restored almost straight away when Di Hiini stepped through a gap to race 40 metres and score. Matatū showed some excellent scrambling defence to deny a flying Sylvia Brunt but couldn’t stop debutant Jaymie Kolose down the other wing after a break by Kiritapu Demant.
Matatū’s set piece extended the lead after the break, Lucy Jenkins diving over in the corner after a good lineout drive. However, they were soon down to 14 players after a sustained period of Blues attack drew a professional foul from Bremner. The resulting play saw a goal line restart forced, which Kolose impressively ran back in for her second try.
The Blues struck again through Katelyn Vaha’akolo, with the dual-code star picking off a pass to scoot 20 metres to cut the deficit to a converted try and set up a grandstand finish with 15 minutes to play.
However, Matatū kept the ball down the Blues’ end of the field until a few minutes from the end. The Blues desperately attacked into the 22 and regular time ended on a pulsating note when Sophie Fisher barged over after a quick tap. Demant’s crucial conversion slid wide, leading to wild celebrations from the Matatū side and their delirious fans.
Matatū 33 (Kendra Reynolds, Alana Bremner, Martha Mataele, Di Hiini, Lucy Jenkins tries; Renee Holmes 4 con)
Blues Women 31 (Jayme Kolose 2, Grace Gago, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Sophie Fisher tries; Ruahei Demant 3 con)