Waikato pick up thrilling win over Wellington

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Waikato's win kept it in second place in the Premiership while Auckland, who beat Counties Manukau 13-10 in a tight game in Pukekohe, are in third place with Canterbury still leading the way, although still to have the bye, by seven points after their 26-7 win over Bay of Plenty. However, Canterbury were unable to add points to their halftime lead of 26-0, during the second half. 

In the Waikato win halfback Ariana Bayler set the tone for her side when finding space around a goalmouth ruck to run in the first try. But almost immediately, in a pattern that marked the game, Wellington wing Ayesha  Leti l'iga entered the line at a lovely angle to scythe through the home defence and score.

Just before halftime big prop Tanya Kalounivale powered her way over the line by the goalposts to give Waikato a 17-13 halftime lead. Eleven minutes into the second half centre Carla Hohepa's strong run took play into the Wellington 22m area to secure a penalty to extend the lead. With 13 minutes left, Wellington scored with No8 Dhys Faleafaga on the end of a backline move to cut back in to score and see the scores locked at 20-20.

But then disappointing defence on a kick to the Wellington in-goal area allowed wing Kelsey Teneti to slip in and touch the ball down before Wellington fullback Georgia Daals could force it.

The drama wasn't over, however, as Leti l'iga scored again with 1min 10sec remaining on the clock with Elizabeth Goulden's conversion levelling the scores again. But, seizing the ball from the restart, Waikato threw everything at Wellington and with numbers in hand close to the lin, it was lock Mia Anderson who picked up the ball to score the match winner.

Seventy minutes in front against neighbours Auckland, Counties Manakau Heat let their tackling slip in the final 10 minutes for Auckland centre Sylvia Brunt to score the match-winning try by taking advantage of the poor defence. The home team had scored early when lock Harono Te Iringa got across but it was against a tide of Auckland dominance of field position. Eventually, the defensive requirements took their toll and Auckland took advantage.

In the Championship Manawatū remain unbeaten after beating North Harbour 34-0 while Northland lifted themselves into second place, five points back after a 41-3 win over Taranaki.

Counties Manukau Heat 10 Auckland Storm 13

Counties Manukau Heat 10 (Harono Te Iringa try; Hazel Tubic con, pen) Auckland Storm 13 (Sylvia Brunt try; Ruahei Demant 2 pen; Patricia Maliepo con). HT: 7-3

Manawatū Cyclones 34 North Harbour Hibiscus 0

Manawatū Cyclones 34 (Marylin Live, Janna Vaughan, Crystal Mayes, Layla Sae, Jayme Nuku, Rangi-Marie Sturmey tries; Carys Dallinger 2 con) North Harbour Hibiscus 0. HT: 24-0

Hawke's Bay Tui 80 Tasman Mako 5

First five-eighths Krysten Cottrell scored 30 points for Hawke's Bay with two tries and 10 conversions in her haul.

Hawke's Bay Tui 80 (Harmony Kautai 3, Nina Pineaha 2, Michaela Baker 2, Krysten Cottrell 2, Jaimee Robin, Moomooga Palu, Leah Tuhi tries; Cottrell 10 con) Tasman Mako 5 (Karla Wright-Akeli try). HT: 40-5

Canterbury 26 Bay of Plenty Volcanix 7

Canterbury 26 (Te Rauoriwa Gapper, Grace Steinmetz, Amy du Plessis tries; Kendra Cocksedge 3 con) Bay of Plenty Volcanix 7 (Mererangi Paul try; R Wickliffe con). HT: 26-0

Waikato 34 Wellington Pride 27

Waikato 34 (Ariana Bayler, Tanya Kalounivale, Kelsey Teneti, Mia Anderson tries; Bayler 3 con, 2 pen; Chelsea Alley con) Wellington Pride 27 (Ayesha Leti l'iga 2, Dhys Faleafaga tries; Amanda Rasch con, 2 pen; Elizabeth Goulden 2 con). HT: 17-13

Northland Kauri 41 Taranaki Whio 3

Northland Kauri 41 (Tyler Nankivell 2, Lara Cooper, Sela Moata'ane,  Krystal Murray 2, Rowena Davis-Cooper tries; Murray 2 con; Nankivell con) Taranaki Whio 3 (Chloe Sampson pen). HT:


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