Above: The Wellington Maori team beat the Wellington Samoans 39-24 in their match at the Petone Recreation Ground. PHOTO: Andy McArthur
The Wellington Pride registered their opening win of the 2019 Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup, beating the Bay of Plenty Volcanix 32-29 in a 6 tries to 5 thriller at Jerry Collins Stadium this afternoon.
The early game at Porirua Park was also exciting, with the U18 Wellington Community girls team beating the U18 Girls Centurions 38-34.
The Wellington Maori side beat the Wellington Samoans 39-24 in their feature Festival Cup match at the Petone Recreation Ground.
In the curtain-raiser at Petone, the U18 Centurions beat the Wellington Samoans U18s 17-12.
The Wellington Centurions beat the Hawke’s Bay Saracens 43-41 in an edge-of-the-seat affair Napier in their match.
The Hawke’s Bay side took a 22-12 lead into halftime, before the Saracens scored two quick tries to move ahead 24-22. Both sides shaded each other right up to the end and it was 36-36 with about 10 minutes to play and then 41-36 to Hawke’s Bay and finally the winning try was scored in the shadows of fulltime.
The Wellington U16 Development team beat the Wairarapa-Bush U16As 40-29in their match in Masterton.
Centre Bernadette Robertson crossed for the winning try for the Wellington Pride with three minutes to play to give the Pride the lead for the final time of the match, only a few minutes after BoP had seemingly scored the winning try in the opposite corner.
The visitors had shown positive attack in the backs all game, stretching the Pride out wide on several occasions, so it was fitting for them that left wing Autumn Rain Stephens-Daly out flanked and out gassed the cover defence from a movement started from a turnover on her own 22 and a 65 metre run to the corner. This put BoP ahead 29-27.
The Pride quickly regrouped and from the next kick-off won possession back and launched a furious raid back up into he 22. Awarded two consecutive penalties and after choosing to take quick taps instead of going for goal, they were rewarded when centre Robertson crashed over for the match-winner.
Earlier, the Pride had made a sizzling start to their first home fixture of the year, attacking first phase from a scrum on halfway and flyhalf Montana Heslop cutting clean through and setting up a try to Norths left wing Kolora Lomani in support.
Both sides made numerous handling errors early on, and BoP, with the moderate wind at their backs, soon capitalised on a Pride dropped ball in midfield and second five-eighth Renee Wickliffe steamed through to score their first try.
They went up 12-5 when they isolated a Pride player on the far side of the field and won the ball back from a turnover and poured up in the 22 to set up a close-quarter try to prop Baye Jacob.
The Pride strung some phases together but were denied a try by tenacious defence. BoP won a defensive scrum, but from the set-piece, Wellington turned the ball over and halfback Ana Marie-Afuie scored to make it 12-12.
Undeterred, BoP enjoyed their best period of the game between the 30th and 40th minutes and they scored twice more in this period to go ahead 24-12. Hooker Luca Connor scored first after they ran back a clearing kick and industrious blindside flanker Kendra Reynolds scored first phase from a lineout 30 metres out when she came into the backline in the midfield.
The Pride struck back right on halftime, building more phases and taking a quick tap from a penalty and left wing Lomani diving over in the corner to cut BoP’s lead to 24-17 at halftime.
Referee Larissa Collingwood’s whistle was kept busy for the first 15 minutes of the second half as both sides infringed repeatedly and the game ebbed and flowed.
Finally, it was Wellington that broke the deadlock when a 20 metre break by lock Jonah Ngan-Woo up the middle of the field resulted in a try to replacement prop Raylene Lolo in support. This cut the gap to 24-22.
Normal transmission resumed for the next 15 minutes, with most of the play between the 22s. In the 68th minute, Wellington won a turnover from a BoP defensive lineout in the corner and swung play back across the posts to the grandstand and fullback Thamsyn Newton scored to make it 27-24.
Momentum appeared to be finally swinging the Pride’s way, with the wind and good value off the bench in players such as Lolo and Sanita Levave proving telling.
But the match unfolded in the final several minutes with Stephens-Daly’s try for the visitors followed by Robertson’s winning score for the home side.