Counties to meet Canty in FPC final
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.