Pare­mata-Plim­mer­ton just pipped

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JAMES PAUL

‘‘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.’’

PHOTO: SAN­DRA MCGILL

Pare­mata Plim­mer­ton’s loose for­ward, Tyra Misky, takes the ball into con­tact dur­ing the team’s first semi­fi­nal win, 12-10 over Poneke.

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