Late try seals Can­ter­bury’s maiden tri­umph

The Dominion Post - - Sport - TONY SMITH

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.

PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT

Any­thing they can do ... a day af­ter their men’s team’s tri­umph, Can­ter­bury won their first na­tional women’s ti­tle af­ter edg­ing Coun­ties.

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