Paremata-Plimmerton just pipped
‘‘Our expectations at the beginning of the season were just to get a team into the competition and just try not to get hidings’’
Looking to build off the back of their nail-biting semifinal victory, Paremata-Plimmerton’s top women’s rugby team was pipped at the grand final posts by Petone on Saturday.
The team’s youngest player at 16 years old, fullback Kayla Hauparoa-Rei scored three tries against Petone but it was not enough in the end and the team went down 36-27 at Petone Recreation Ground on August 5.
The team, Paremata’s first women’s rugby team in more than 20 years, had earlier edged out Poneke 12-10 in a semifinal and cemented their place in the senior final against Petone - their first ever final.
Coach Findlay Siania said last week’s semifinal was ‘‘a nail-biter alright’’ heading into the final.
From the get-go, Poneke were quick off the mark applying pressure with fullback Kiriwera Nepia-Su’a finishing off a powerful forward’s drive to dot down for a try.
Following a missed conversion, Poneke were on the front foot again until Paremata turned the ball over.
Halfback Savannah Peniata took advantage and scored to the left of the posts to tie the game 5-5 at halftime.
‘‘We told them to believe in themselves at halftime. Their expectation was that this was their grand final, their last game,’’ Siania said.
‘‘At the start of the season, they became disheartened when they conceded points. But as they progressed through the season, they realised they could compete with any team.’’
Twenty-four minutes into the second half, Poneke struck again.
Through strong pick and goes, their forwards camped on Paremata’s tryline for close to seven minutes.
‘‘They were coming at us with shear power, just hitting our defensive line over and over,’’ Siania said.
The defence finally broke, allowing Poneke centre Tracy Isa’ako to break the draw 10-5.
Paremata’s No 8 Kate Nightingale and substitute lock Roimata Parata charged at the conversion attempt, forcing the ball to miss the uprights.
With eight minutes left, Paremata recovered the ball quickly and began marching their way into Poneke territory.
A few phase plays later, with both forwards and backs playing a key role, Peniata scored her second try and tied the scores again.
First-half substitute Ana Mateo then edged Paremata in front by adding the extra two points.
‘‘Our expectations at the begin- ning of the season were just to get a team into the competition and just try not to get hidings,’’ Siania said.
‘‘We’ve played each other four times, and lost twice. Now they have ended up in the grand final which has exceeded all our expectations.’’
Paremata Plimmerton’s loose forward, Tyra Misky, takes the ball into contact during the team’s first semifinal win, 12-10 over Poneke.