Coun­ties to meet Canty in FPC fi­nal

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - AN­DREW VOERMAN

Can­ter­bury will host the Coun­ties Manukau Heat in the fi­nal of the Farah Palmer Cup Premier­ship af­ter they both won their semi­fi­nals yes­ter­day.

In the Cham­pi­onship, the Welling­ton Pride will host the Otago Spirit, af­ter they beat the North Har­bour Hibis­cus and Hawke’s Bay Tuis re­spec­tively.

The win­ner of that match will be pro­moted to the Premier­ship next year, re­plac­ing the Auck­land Storm, who were beaten 25-22 by the Bay of Plenty Vol­canix in the rel­e­ga­tion play­off.

While Can­ter­bury led from start to fin­ish in their 31-12 win over Manawatu¯ in Christchurch, Coun­ties had to come from be­hind to get up 24-14 over Waikato in Hamil­ton.

Half­back Ari­ana Bayler put the hosts up in­side five min­utes at Waikato Sta­dium, snip­ing down the blind­side from a ruck five me­tres out, and they took a 14-0 lead into the break af­ter winger Ana Marsters made the most of an over­lap out wide. Cap­tain Chelsea Al­ley kicked both con­ver­sions.

Waikato had been the dom­i­nant side in the first half, but they were shut out of the game in the sec­ond, as Coun­ties scored 24 unan­swered points to book their place in the de­cider.

Their cap­tain Ari­hi­ana Mari­noTauhinu got things go­ing when she pounced on a Waikato han­dling er­ror near their own line nine min­utes into the sec­ond spell, then con­verted her own try.

The scores were level just af­ter the hour mark, when prop Aotearoa Matau crashed over, mak­ing amends for the time she spent in the sin bin in the first half.

Aroha Sav­age, the No 8, put Coun­ties ahead three min­utes later, with Marino-Tauhinu kick­ing a penalty to go with her three con­ver­sions that gave them some breath­ing space.

Next week’s fi­nal in Christchurch will be a re­match of last year’s, which Can­ter­bury won 13-7.

Welling­ton will be favourites to go up to the Premier­ship when they host Otago in the Cham­pi­onship de­cider.

They beat North Har­bour 33-7, while Otago ac­counted for Hawke’s Bay 34-10.

Can­ter­bury’s Alana Brem­ner tries to bust through a Manawatu¯ tack­ler.

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