The opening round of the Farah Palmer Cup kicked off this weekend auspiciously when the Bay of Plenty Volcanix held 15 time champions the Auckland Storm to a 10-10 draw at Rugby Park in Whakatane. The conditions were cool and the game was tough. With two tries a piece to each team (coming from Ereti Williams and Luka Connor for BOP and Karina Stowers and Leanne Thompson for Auckland) the game was played very close to the scrum and looked to be a hard grind for both teams.
Over at the newly minted Jerry Collins Stadium in Porirua, the Wellington Pride opened their season with an empathetic win over the Hawkes Bay Tuis. With seven tries to one to the home side the score could have been a lot worse had it not been for the Tuis defence. With a brace of tries to both Keri Mei and Rejieli Uluinayau, the Pride will look to keep up their try scoring ways throughout the Cup.
The first match for the newly joined Tasman Makos saw them host the mighty Waikato at Lansdowne Park in sunny Blenheim. The Makos made an impressive start to the Cup despite losing 17-25 to Waikato. With three tries to four in favour of the visitors the game could have gone either way had the tries been converted
successfully. Tasman will be pleased with their performance on the day.
Game four of the first round saw the reigning champions Counties Power Heat host the North Harbour Hibiscus at Ecolight Stadium in Pukekohe. With 14 tries being runin by Counties, North Harbour never stood a chance. With hat-tricks to Aroha Heta and Bernadette Robertson and a brace to Yuki Ono, Counties steamrolled their opposition and look set to dominate the tournament just like last year.
The final game of the round saw Canterbury host the Otago Spirit at Linfield Park in Christchurch. The game was very physical up front and saw Canterbury edge the Spirit 20-07 to take their first win of the season. Otago will walk away from this game knowing they will be the team to watch in the Championship.
With the first week being played as a “cross-over” round, meaning one team from the Premiership plays one team from the Championship, a team from the Premiership had to sit out due to the uneven number of teams. That team was the Manawatu Cyclones for this round. They lose a game overall but they gain 5 points for the missed game*. The second “cross-over” week is in round five where Counties Power Heat take a breather. This is going to be interesting as the bonus points system will come into play and be a big factor in who goes through to the semis at the end of October.
*Still to be decided.
Bay of Plenty 10 (Ereti Williams, Luka Connor tries)
Auckland Storm 10 (Karina Stowers, Leanne Thompson tries).
Wellington 42 (Ayesha Leti-Liga, Kiri Mei 2, Angelica Uila, Rejieli Uluinayau 2, Raylene Lolo tries; Acacia Te Iwimate 2 con, pen)
Hawke’s Bay 10 (Shaylee Tipiwai try; Amy Williams con, pen)
Tasman 17 (Michelle Curry, Wairakau Greig, Rosie Buchanan-Brown tries; Risaleaana Pouri-Lane con).
Waikato 25 (Makaia Riki-Te Kanawa, Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Veronica Sue, Hannah Brough tries; Ariana Bayler con, Calista Wihone pen)
Counties Manukau 84 (Aroha Heta 3, Bernadette Robertson 3, Justine Lavea, Victoria Subrtizky-Nafatali, Timara Leaf, Yuki Ono 2, Aotearoa Matau, Hanna Brough, Te Kura Nagata Aerengamate tries; Hazel Tubic 6 con, Isabel Ozorio con )
North Harbour 7 (Caitlyn Cox try; Sophie Fisher con).
Canterbury 20 (Nicole Purdom, Nina Poletti, Rebecca Todd tries; Olivia McGoverne con, pen)
Otago 7 (Cheyenne Cunningham try; Sheree Hume con)