Without batting an eyelid, Counties Manukau and Akarana took on stormy conditions and it was the Stingrays who came out top 14-4 to win their ninth straight title in the NZRL women's national tournament final at Cornwall Park on Monday.
This year’s victory was extra special for Kiwi Fern veteran Laura Mariu who also celebrated being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honours announced today.
Big hits and classy tricks were on display with Counties drawing first blood after the opening 20 minutes was spent in the middle of the field, neither team ready to give their opposition a look in.
That was until Counties left winger Sarah Filimoeatu sealed herself a try putting first points on the board, the defending champions up by four as they headed into the break.
Five minutes into the second half and Counties were one man down with half Kimiora Nati being sent off for a professional foul.
Akarana took full advantage with Billy-Jean Ale levelling up with a try beside the post.
An off-load from Nati sent Onjeurlina Leiataua (who picked up the MVP of the tournament award) over the line to take an 8-4 lead which was then converted by Nati to take it to 10-4.
And from there, it was full steam ahead for Counties who sealed the deal with one more try to Sarah Filimoeatu who picked up her second four pointer of the day, the final score being 14-4.
Back of the Tournament | Apii Nicholls-Pualau (Counties)
Forward of the Tournament | Karley Te Kawa (Akarana)
MVP of the Tournament | Onjeurlina Leiataua (Counties)
MVP of the Final | Chrystal Tamarua (Akarana)
Coach of the Tournament | Rod Ratu (Counties)
Trainer of the Tournament | Vili Johnson (Auckland Vulcans)
5th & 6th play-off | Wai-Coa-Bay 8 (Lavinia McGee-Repia, Te Kowhai Boynton tries), Wellington 0.
3rd & 4th play-off | Canterbury 13 (Cassie Siataga 2 tries; Cassie Siataga goal; Cassie Siataga field goal), Auckland 12 (Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell, Leanne Gardiner tries; Aleisha Taylor 2 goals).
Grand final | Counties Manukau 14 (Sarah Filimoeatu 2, Onjeurlina Leiataua tries; Kimiora Nati goal), Akarana 4 (Billy-Jean Ale try).