Round Three of the Farah Palmer Cup rolled in this weekend with a bang as old rivalries reared their heads and showed us why this season is amazing!
Game one of the round saw the Hawkes Bay Tuis host the Otago Spirit at Tremain Park in Napier. The visitors managed to go into the break with a 10-5 lead. After half time the Spirit piled on the points with 4 tries, 2 conversions and a penalty try to boot. The Tuis have yet to pick up any points this season and look to next weeks game against North Harbour Hibiscus at the QBE Stadium to try their luck. With a full-time score of 17-39 to the visitors, Otago are positioning themselves as contenders for the Championship title.
Game two and arguably the match of the round saw the Auckland Storm host Counties Power Heat in Auckland not only for competition points but also the esteemed JJ Stewart Trophy as well. Live streamed on Facebook, thanks to the Black Ferns page, the game did not disappoint. With the Storm holding the Power Heat to a close seven points to twelve going into the half, the home side were looking to capitalise on their momentum from the previous week and looked to be gaining ground on Counties. Unfortunately Counties had other ideas with star Black Fern Hazel Tubic leading the charge with 1 try, 4 conversions and a penalty to walk away from the game with 16 points. This places Tubic at the top of the points table with a combined haul of 41 points from 3 games. In the second half Counties scored three tries to one while Auckland paid for their lack of disciple and defensive efforts. Since Counties beat Auckland at home they are now the proud holders of the JJ Stewart Trophy, name after one of the great advocates for womens rugby and former All Black Coach/Selector. Auckland look to next weeks match where the face the Wellington Pride and Counties are at home again against Canterbury looking at a four from four strike rate.
Canterbury hosted the Manawatu Cyclones at their base of Linfield Park in Christchurch on what was a very mild spring day. I managed to get to this game and live tweeted it for the masses. Canterbury dominated up front with very effective scrummaging from the forward pack. The Cyclones were looking to capitalise on their round two win but were unable to cash in some of their breaks towards the try line. Canterbury looked to have the game in the bag going into the break 28 points to nil. After the break the Cyclones showed why the shouldn’t be written off with a two tries in quick succession but under a warm sun Canterbury brought it home with a brace to debutante Grace Brooker finishing up 40-10.
Next up saw the Waikato play host to the Wellington Pride at Marist Rugby Club in Hamilton. In wet and muddy conditions both teams slugged it out to the bitter end with the Pride narrowly pipping Waikato at the posts to secure the win 11-5. Both teams pick up points for this round, Wellington four points for the win and Waikato one point for losing by seven points or less. Both teams will be happy with how they performed, especially in the atrocious conditions, and will come away knowing it could have gone either way.
The last game of the round saw the Bay of Plenty Volcanix host North Harbour Hibiscus at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua. With the Volcanix dominating the entire game against North Harbour, they have shown that they are the team to beat in the Championship. The Hibiscus will walk away from this game with the knowledge that they can play in the big leagues but still need to do some work. With the full time score of 34-12 to the home side, the Volcanix are the team to beat in the Championship with 12 points from three games, two behind Counties.
We’re almost at the mid-way point of the competition and this year is looking to be awesome season. With Counties 3 from 3 with 15 points, the Pride are not far behind with 11 points and the rest of the Premiership almost at a bottle neck with only one or two points separating the next four teams. Over in the Championship the Volcanix are out to a commanding lead with 12 points (three behind Counties) and Otago chasing them hard with 10 points. The other three teams have yet to put any points on the board, but that’s set to change in round four when the North Harbour Hibiscus host the Hawkes Bay Tuis. Otago have the bye for week four but are safe in second place.
Hawke’s Bay Tuis 17 (Gemma Woods 2, Jess Bennett tries; Renee Holmes con)
Otago Spirit 39 (Cheyenne Cunningham, Georgia Mason, Annemieke van Vliet, Greer Muir, Leyhane van Vugt, Sam Hollows, penalty try; Sheree Hume 2 con).
Auckland Storm 12 (Hasting Leiataua, Tiana Ngawati tries; Ruahei Demant con)
Counties Manukau Heat 36 (Hazel Tubic, Langi Veainu 2, Ari Marino, Bernie Robertson tries; Hazel Tubic 4 con, pen).
Canterbury 40 (Melanie Puckett, Lucy Anderson, Grace Brooker 2, Nicole Purdom tries; Charntay Poko 2 con, 3 pen; Cassie Siataga con)
Manawatu Cyclones 10 (Janna Vaughan, Selica Winiata tries).
Waikato 5 (Donna Fermanis try)
Wellington Pride 11 (Sanita Levave try; Acacia te Iwimate 2 pen).
Bay of Plenty Volcanix 34 (Luka Connor 2, Autumn Rain Stephens 2, Ereti Williams, Crystal Mayes tries; Mayes 2 con)
North Harbour Hibiscus 12 (Caitlyn Cox, Claudia McMeekin tries; Sophie Fisher con).