Farah Palmer Cup: Round 6 Review

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Waikato thrashed Auckland while Wellington moved into Premiership semifinal contention with their seventh win on the trot against Bay of Plenty.

Wellington led 12-3 at halftime following tries to Porirua locals Angel Mulu and Harmony Ioane. 

Loosehead Mulu thumped over from close range while promising prospect Ioane set sail on the wing in a rare moment of expansion, created by former Black Ferns, and still uncompromising, lock Senita Levave.

Bay of Plenty were in the hunt at 18-13. They scored the first two tries of the second-half. Bustling hooker Te Urupounamu-McGarvey snatched an errant lineout throw close to the line prior to Les Elder galloping 25-metres after collecting a loose pass.

Wellington’s bench proved size and energy. Hosanna Aumua, Angelica Uila and Oneta Schwalger were outstanding off the pine as the visitors failed to keep pace.

Lock Kelsie Wills was strong for the Volcanix. Nina Foaese was noteworthy at No 8 for the Pride.

Wellington 32 (Angel Mulu, Harmony Ioane, Hosanna Aumua, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate tries; Thamsyn Newton 2 con, 2 pen) Bay of Plenty 13 (Te Urupounamu-McGarvey, Les Elder tries; Kayln Takitimu-Cook con)

Otago remained unbeaten in the championship, their clinical and cunning play settling the outcome at halftime, ahead 26-3.

The Spirit lost focus for long periods of the second half, North Harbour finishing with a flourish by scoring two tries in the last six minutes.

Otago centre Cheyelle Cunningham was piercing and openside Leah Miles robust in another satisfying all-round display. 

Otago 38 (Cheyelle Cunningham 2, Kiana Wereta, Olivia Flower, Keely Hill, Te Atawhai Campbell tires; Georgia Cormick 4 con) North Harbour 22 (Hailey Beale, Louisa Tubailagi, Clara O' Connor tires; Hayley Hutana 2 con, pen)

Since the inception of the official women's National Provincial Championship in 1999, Auckland have won the title 14 times. In all matches between 1994 and 2006 they were unbeaten for 71 consecutive matches.

August 20, 2022, is a day in infamy in that otherwise peerless record. Waikato was savage in a brutal, record demolition of the Storm, despite the absence of several Black Ferns.

It's hard to find fault or individual standouts for Waikato but hooker Grace Houpapa-Barrett was damaging and Black Ferns halfback Ariana Bayler nippy behind a strong forward pack. 

Auckland are still in the Premiership semifinal hunt, but it will be a long week back to the drawing board addressing faults from this match.

Waikato 41 (Grace Houpapa-Barrett 2, Montessa Tairakena 2, Esther Tilo-Faiaoga 2, Ariana Bayler 4 con, pen) Auckland 5 (Angelica Mekemeke Vahi try)

Canterbury kept the locals happy in the curtain raiser to the Black Ferns Test, leading from start to finish against a gallant, smaller, audacious Manawatū.

Kendra Cocksedge was in vintage form in the main event, but her Canterbury replacement Dianne Hiini was impressive, scoring twice in a rare start.

Greer Muir was an Otago veteran, the loose forward playing with renewed vigour in red and black. Marcelle Parkes is having a strong season and Rosie Kelly is worth keeping an eye on.

Despite the loss, Manatwatū's Rhiarna Ferris plays with resolve and Carys Dallinger is capable at first-five.

Canterbury 36 (Dianne Hiini 2, Marcelle Parkes, Greer Muir, Avau Filmaua, Rosie Kelly 4 con, pen) Manawatū 19 (Holly-Rae Mete, Kahurangi Sturmey, Rihanna Ferris tries; Carys Dallinger 2 con)

Inglewood wasn't an idyllic venue for this tussle, saturating rain turning an emerald green field dark brown. 

In the first half, Taranaki were urgent and precise accumulating a 15-0 lead. Brooke Neilson scored twice with her tireless industry and Jaymi Ngaia also dotted down in a combative, collective forward effort.

Northland received a rocket at halftime and when they emptied the bench, a heavier, hungrier pack turned the game in their favour. The ball rarely ventured past 12 as the forwards played with an appreciation for the atrocious conditions. 

Former Black Ferns lock Charmaine Smith featured for Northland. Tuira Stowers, Georgia Lidgard and Kahurangi Shelford are all relatives of first class players. All three lived up to their impressive lineage.

Northland 29 (Harmony Covacich-Baanders, Trisha Vaka, Justice Karena, Tiaho Mahanaga, Georgina Lidgard tries; Tyler Nankivell 2 con Taranaki 15 (Brooke Neilson 2, Jaymi Ngaia tries)