Late try seals Canterbury’s maiden triumph
Rebecca Todd’s timely try earned Canterbury their first Farah Cup after seven finals failures to give the province the men’s and women’s national championship double.
Todd’s 78th-minute try and Kendra Cocksedge’s superb sideline conversion earned over Counties Manukau a 13-7 win at Pukekohe yesterday.
Canterbury deserved their first victory after dominating the match, but looked likely to lose 7-6 after an intercept try to Counties’ Lanulangi Veainu.
But they kept their nerve and got their reward when Todd dummied and squirmed over the line in the 78th minute.
It was a sweet victory for Cocksedge, and captain Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox, who had suffered the heartbreak of losing multiple finals.
‘‘First title ever,’’ Cocksedge said on Sky TV.
Te Ohaere-Fox, playing in her seventh final, said it was ‘‘good to finally get the hands on the trophy’’.
She said Canterbury’s teamwork and culture were behind their success. ‘‘It took us to some dark places in the final, but we got through it.’’
Counties could not complain at the result - they were punished for their ill-discipline in the penalty count and had two players sinbinned.
Canterbury dominated territory and possession in the first half, but only had three points to show for their efforts.
Counties did not help their cause by conceding 11 first half penalties.
Coach Davida White urged Counties to be more patient around the ruck and on defence, ‘‘and to be mongrels’’ as well. But they started the second half on the back foot after second five-eighth Timara Leaf was sinbinned in the 42nd minute for a high tackle on Canterbury’s Grace Brooker.
Counties produced one of their best chances when powerful frontrowers Leilani Perese and Aotearoa Matau combined for a series of surges, swatting away defenders like flies.
However, just as the line was looming, Canterbury’s Lucy Anderson ripped the ball away and the opportunity was lost.
Canterbury doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Poko dropped a goal on a penalty advantage. They had another numerical advantage when Counties lock Harono Iringa was sinbinned for a late and high tackle on Cocksedge.
But just after the second rower had left the field, Counties pounced.
Canterbury were seeking to exploit an overlap on the outside, but hooker Jessie Hansen’s intended pass to lock Alana Bremner, was intercepted by Veainu, who scampered 40m to score under the posts.
Fullback Hazel Tubic, whose tactical boot kept Counties in the game, converted for a 7-6 lead.
Olivia McGoverne, Canterbury’s fullback, came close to dotting down, but the match officials ruled she had placed the ball on the sideline chalk and Counties escaped with a 22m dropout.
Anything they can do ... a day after their men’s team’s triumph, Canterbury won their first national women’s title after edging Counties.