Vol­canix vic­tory cre­ates his­tory

Bay of Plenty Times - - SPORT - David Beck Rugby

The Bay of Plenty Vol­canix have climbed from the bot­tom of the Farah Palmer Cup Premier­ship table with a his­tory-mak­ing win over the Auck­land Storm.

The 34-29 win was the first time the Bay of Plenty women have ever beaten their Auck­land coun­ter­parts and was a re­sult which shows how far they have come. In 2015 they lost 101-0 and in 2016 lost 62-0 to the same op­po­nents. With both sides sit­ting bot­tom of the Farah Palmer Cup Premier­ship table on five points go­ing into this round, an un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tion for the Auck­land women, it was a cru­cial game in terms of avoid­ing rel­e­ga­tion to the Cham­pi­onship next year.

The Vol­canix came into the match in hot form hav­ing beaten Taranaki 74-0, but it was Auck­land who had all the ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion in the open­ing stages and drew first blood in the eighth minute.

After a long pe­riod of pos­ses­sion in­side the Bay of Plenty 22m, Auck­land made the break­through when they cre­ated an over­lap to put winger Hast­ing Leiataua over in the left-hand cor­ner.

The Vol­canix were per­sis­tent in their re­sponse and 18 min­utes in won a penalty in front of the posts which sec­ond five Re­nee Wick­liffe slot­ted to re­duce the deficit to 5-3.

Auck­land went back on the at­tack, but just as they looked likely to score, Vol­canix half­back Jade Tuilaepa snatched an in­ter­cept and took off be­fore be­ing tack­led in­side the Auck­land 22m. She was caught, but won a penalty, be­fore first five Ora Wil­liams took a quick tap and squeezed through a gap to score next to the posts. Wick­liffe con­verted and the Vol­canix led 10-5.

Min­utes later Tuilaepa was in for a try of her own on the back of a slick set piece move. Yule broke off the back of the scrum, sucked in de­fend­ers and put her winger into space. She found Tuilaepa on the in­side and she had too much pace, rac­ing away to score. Wick­liffe con­verted and Bay of Plenty led 17-5.

The Vol­canix had the home side un­der the pump and in the 33rd minute Wick­liffe kicked an­other penalty to make it 20-5.

Four min­utes from the break Wick­liffe added to her points tally, this time with a try. The 32-test Black Fern is a real hot-step­per and pro­duced a van­ish­ing act to slice through a gap and score next to the posts. She con­verted her own try and the Vol­canix led 27-5 at half­time.

Auck­land needed to be the first to score in the sec­ond half and they did just that, work­ing a sim­ple play in­side the Vol­canix 22m to put winger Co­rina Nanai over in the cor­ner and re­duce the deficit to 27-10.

Auck­land had the mo­men­tum and in the 51st minute were in again. First five Rua­hei De­mant hit a big gap be­fore of­fload­ing to sec­ond five Mele Hu­fanga who scored un­der the posts. De­mant con­verted from right in front and the score was 27-17.

Just when they looked like they might suc­cumb to more pres­sure, the Vol­canix forced a turnover on their own 22m and Mys­tery McLean Kora, who had come on off the bench, broke down the left wing. She drew the full­back be­fore find­ing flanker Les­ley El­der on the in­side for a try un­der the posts. Wick­liffe con­verted and the Vol­canix led 34-17.

Auck­land re­fused to go away and kept them­selves in the game with a try to pow­er­house No8 Joanna Fanene who showed great strength to crash over and make it 34-22. With 10 min­utes left to play Auck­land were still in the hunt.

With six min­utes left ton the clock Auck­land were in again with a con­verted try to flanker Alaimoana Fineaso-Levi. Cling­ing to a 34-29 lead, the Vol­canix were far from home and dry.

Auck­land threw ev­ery­thing at the Vol­canix in the dy­ing min­utes, but the away side de­fended des­per­ately.

The pres­sure told when Vol­canix lock Mikyla Ward­law was sent to the sin bin with two min­utes left to play.

Auck­land con­tin­ued to at­tack for phase after phase, but the Vol­canix held on and forced a turnover for a fa­mous vic­tory.

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