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Positive approach good reward for MSP Women’s team

The MSP Women’s team this past Saturday following their win over Northern United. They will share the first round Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy with Petone for the next year. 

  • By Adam Julian

Ryan Setefano has officially retired from playing after 166 premier games for Marist St Pats. The versatile outside back won a Jubilee Cup in 2012 and appeared in finals in 2015, 2016, and 2021.

For the past eight seasons, he’s been coaching MSP’s Premier Women. Last year MSP made the final of the Tia Passi Memorial Cup for the first time with an 8-3 record.

A familiar happening so far this season for the MSP Women’s side – plenty of tries being being scored. Photo: Andy McArthur.

On Saturday, MSP captured the Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy for the first time sharing honours with Petone after a 38-17 victory over Norths who toppled the Villagers on May 6.

MSP was beaten by Petone on April 8 but hasn’t lost since scoring 391 points (65 tries) in six games.

“Our strength is in numbers and the unity the group has. A lot of players are standing up and it comes from the competition within. They all work hard in their own time and help each other be better,” Setefano said.

Women’s competition top try and point scorers after the just completed first round.

Former Black Fern Monica Tagoai has been on fire with 14 tries in seven games. Her midfield combination with Drenna Falaniko (10 tries) has been dynamite for the Scarlets. Tamara Ruaporo has scored prolifically with 57 points and Maia Broughton is an assured presence at first-five.

Marcelle Parkes (briefly back from Canterbury) and Maddie Feaunati are a source of real strength in the loose, while Paige Va’auli has made the switch to the forwards after several seasons playing as an outside back.

Front rowers Kelly Laumalili-Tuiatua, Valini Vaka, Teuila Taito, Malaea Eni, and Octavia Nanai-Iafeta have proven robust and durable.

“We want to play with freedom and be able to express ourselves. We just want to paint something that is entertaining and exciting. We all bring a piece of ourselves to the canvas which makes it something special and hopefully inspires others to join our game,” Setefano observed.

Depth of talent in the second round Tia Passi Memorial Trophy will be important. Setefano is impressed by the competitiveness, and the quality of the competition overall.

“It’s great to see more teams competing in the women’s grade. We had a tough start against Poneke and HOBM/Wainui which was a credit to them. Avalon is in the competition again. All eight teams have something special to offer.”

What does Petone offer that is especially challenging?

“Petone were awesome in our first-round game and were the best team on the day. We knew they had recruited well over the off-season to gain some key pieces for their squad and that they would be tough to beat. Great set piece and some solid runners with talent to burn in the backline got the better of us,” Setefano responded.

Norths are the defending champions while Ories can’t be discounted with World Cup-winning Black Ferns Jonah Ngan-Woo and Ayesha Leti-I’iga though it’s likely both will miss at least part of the second round due to test commitments against Australia next month.

Last week Setefano achieved higher honours as well. He was appointed Wellington Pride assistant coach. What will he bring to the representative table?

“My biggest strength is bringing unity to a team. I’m really looking forward to being a part of something special moving forward and working with some amazing people to help unleash our talent.”

“Our only challenge is the short time we get to prepare but that’s also a great opportunity to cut to the chase and create something amazing for our city.”

Fusi Feaunati is the new Pride head coach, having been in the Manawatu for several seasons and coached the Cyclones up until last season. Serena Curtis is the other assistant coach.

The Wellington Pride open Farah Palmer Cup season opens on July 15 with a trip to Christchurch to tackle defending champions Canterbury.

Women’s second round Division 1 Tia Paasi Memorial Trophy Round One: Marist St Pat’s v Petone, Evans Bay Park, this Saturday 11.30am.

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