Round Four of the Farah Palmer Cup kicked off in style on Friday night with the Cyclones hosting Waikato at Central Energy Trusts Arena in good ol’ Palmerston North.
Waikato came out with a pre-match haka representing “a land of 100 chiefs and a taniwha is a chief at every bend of the Waikato River” (thanks for the info Melodie Robinson).
From the outset Waikato looked to dominate up front with their forward pack and it was very even for both teams for the first 20 minutes. Poor discipline from both sides showed in the penalty count and referee Rebecca Mahoney had to give the hard word to the team captains about being off-side at ruck time.
The first points of the game came in the ninth minute from the boot of Waikato first-five Chelsea Alley with a penalty kick just inside the 22 metre line. This just after 11 phrases from Waikato and a few minutes later the captain for Waikato, No 2 Sosoli Talawadua, bowled over for the first try of the game 7 metres out from a short line-out. First-five Chelsea Alley couldn’t add the two points to take Waikato 8-0 after only 14 minutes.
Manawatu struck back with a try to right winger Kendall Templeman from a great run and pass from Black Fern Selica Winata. Templeman picked up her second try of the game a few minutes later when Waikato failed to clear a kick and she ran onto a perfect bounce and burned rubber up the sideline to dot down and bring the score line to 10-8 Cyclones.
Waikato answered that with a try with one of their own to No 7 Emma-Lee Heta off the back of a ruck 2 metres out from the line. Going into the half time break Waikato had the slight advantage with the scoreline reading 10-13 after their second try.
Back into the second half and Waikato put another five points on the board to Natalie Delamere after a poor kick by the Cyclones saw the ball bounce perfectly for the No 8 and she hot footed it a solid 30 metres to the try line. With Waikato bagging a bonus point regardless of a win, their night was going well.
Again both teams lacked discipline with the Cyclones picking up 6 points from 2 penalties and Waikato getting 3 points for one as well taking the scores to 16-21 for Waikato.
Both teams also received one yellow card each, both to the No 21 replacements, with Cyclones No 21 Sam Tipene the first to be sent off in the 62nd minute for a deliberate off-side. After this the Cyclones looked slightly demoralised and conceded a try to Waikato captain Sosoli Talawadu, her second one of the game, to take the score to 26-16. The second yellow card came in the 71st minute for Waikato when No 21 Ariana Balyer (and kicker) was sent off for trying to play the ball on the ground which meant that Waikato would be playing with 14 players for the rest of the match.
Manawatu managed to bounce back with a try to No 19 replacement Mahalia Polson bringing the score up to 21-26 with the hopes of a steal within the last 8 minutes of the game.
Waikato managed one last try to No 19 replacement Toku Natua with again no conversion.
With the score at 31-21 to Waikato, the Cyclones needed a converted try and a penalty to draw the game. The Cyclones did manage the try through No 20 replacement Sam McIntosh and Elizabeth Goulden also landed the conversion with the scores at 28-31.
With literally less than 3 minutes left on the clock Manawatu have only themselves to blame for their poor discipline that resulted in Waikato getting a penalty kick almost out in front of the posts. Waikato first-five Chelsea Alley kicked it over with ease and denied the home team 2 bonus points.
The final score ended up being Cyclones 28, Waikato 36. Waikato take maximum points away from this game and the Cyclones also pick up one bonus points for scoring 4 or more tries.
Both teams will need to work on their discipline as there were too many penalties given out over the course of the game. Also, both goal kickers were not having a good day at the office as there were a fair amount of conversion and penalties that went astray.
Waikato now look forward to next week were they host current top of the table Championship team the Bay of Plenty Volcanix at home in Hamilton and the Manawatu Cyclones are away against the feisty Hawkes Bay Tuis.
Round Five will be a “cross-over” round with the Counties Power Heat having the bye and also picking up an automatic 5 points for the inconvenience of it. This is because two teams from the Premiership had to have a bye weekend due to the uneven teams in the Championship league. Hopefully another team will join next year for the Championship and it will be even everything out.