Finalists confirmed in Farah Palmer Cup

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Earlier, unbeaten Canterbury pulled clear of Wellington in the second half of their semifinal to lock in hosting rights of the final.

 

In the Championship, Otago continued their imposing form and will host Hawke's Bay who haven't lost in their last five games.

 


Wellington were stoic in the first half, holding Canterbury to 5-3 at the break.

 

The trouble was they turned against the breeze which the hosts used with commanding authority in the second half.

 


Canterbury’s first try was an absolute firecracker with the ball shared between eight pairs of hands and Lucy Jenkins finishing with some classic openside support play, Jenkins has enjoyed an outstanding season, and today topped the tackle charts with 15.

 


Former Black Ferns hooker Steph Te Ohaere-Fox on the tighthead side of the scrum was an absolute menace. She scored the first try of the second half, her 23rd try in 111 matches.

 


Wing Martha Mataele has scored eight tries this season and centre Amy du Plessis ran gun-barrel straight for a try from a scrum set-move executed to perfection. 

 


Canterbury halfback Kendra Cocksedge will play her 100th match in the final. Hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, No.8 Nina Foaese and wing Bernadette Robinson were hearty for Wellington.

 

 

Canterbury 31 (Lucy Jenkins, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox, Martha Mataele, Pip Love, Amy du Plessis tries; Kendra Cocksedge 2 con, Rosie Kelly con) Wellington 3 (Thamsyn Newton)

 

 


Auckland reversed their round robin hiding to Waikato to win through to a 17th Premiership final with an epic win against defending champions Waikato at FGM Stadium Waikato.

 


With five Black Ferns back in the roster, Auckland was a significantly improved side. An early penalty goal to Waikato fullback Renee Holmes had the hosts ahead. 

 


Soon however, Auckland started to dictate terms, Black Ferns loose forward trio Charmaine McMenamin, Tafito Lafaele and Liana Mikaele-Tu’u to the fore. 

 


The first try was scored by Storm prop Chryss Viliko with a close range thrust. Wing Mele Hufanga fended off her opposite and dashed 40-metres in a pulsating individual finish. Auckland should have scored a third, but Waikato resisted, only just.

 

 

A handful of Auckland infringements on the trot enabled Holmes to slice the deficit to three.

 


Waikato took the lead heading into the last quarter when Carla Hohepa fended off her maker and raced 25-metres.

 


Auckland first five-eighth, and Black Ferns co-captain, Ruahei Demant produced a quality display saving her best for the last 20 minutes when she made two clean breaks the first of which helped wing Katelyn Vaha’akolo score her sixth try of the season.

 


Second five-eighths Patricia Maliepo was equally effective, and shortly after being denied, she pierced through defence and scampered the best part of 20-metres for the clincher.

 


Waikato blindside Ashlee Gaby-Sutherland and lock Chyna Hohepa were busy and Black Ferns prop Tanya Kalounivale added some steel in the second half.

 


Auckland have won 14 of the 16 Premiership finals they have contested and that includes seven wins in eight deciders against Canterbury who won the last final between the powerhouse provinces 30-20 at Rugby Park, Christchurch in 2019.

 

Auckland 26 (Chryss Viliko, Mele Hufanga, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Patricia Maliepo; Sophie Fisher 3 con) Waikato 21 (Carla Hohepa, Esther Tilo-Faiaoga tries; Renee Holmes 3 pen, con)

 

 


Hawke’s Bay qualified for their third consecutive Championship final, rallying from an 11-14 halftime deficit to topple Northland at McLean Park, Napier.

 

In the 46th minute robust Hawke’s Bay No8 Kathleen Brown snaffled a deflected lineout and galloped 40-metres to put the hosts ahead against the run off play. 

 

Despite relentless attack from the visitors, Hawke’s Bay never squandered the lead from that point.

 

Tui centre Amelia Pasikala was damaging and when she cannoned through the Kauri defence with eight minutes remaining victory was secured.

 

Northland outscored Hawke’s Bay two tries to one in the first half. No8 Hikitia Wikaira and right wing Ana Allen crossed the stripe for the visitors. Black Ferns prop Krystal Murray was on target with the boot, and generally dynamic throughout. 

 

Hawke’s Bay first five-eighths Krysten Cottrell was clinical in combination with evergreen halfback Emma Jensen. Hawke’s Bay fullback Rakai McCafferty was illusive and was rewarded for her endeavour with a first-half try.

 

Northland lock Charmaine Smith and left wing Lara Cooper were lively.  

 

Hawke’s Bay Tui 28 (Rakai McCafferty, Kathleen Brown, Amelia Pasikala tries; Krysten Cottrell 2 con, pen) Northland Kauri 19 (Hikitia Wikaira, Ana Allen, Tyler Nankivell tries; Krystal Murray 2 con)

 

 

A first half blitz earned unbeaten Otago the right to host the Championship final. Former Black Ferns Sevens representative Hayley Hutana continued her fine season striking early for North Harbour but thereafter it was one way traffic.

 

Otago played an expansive, fast, and precise style to lead 37-5 at the interval. Wing Olivia Fowler was elusive, one of her two tries a stunner scored in a 60 metre burst.

 

Centre Cheyenne Cunningham has had a top season and her tries in the 32nd and 39th minute settled the contest. Her intercept from halfway was a thrilling moment of superior anticipation.

 

Openside Leah Miles with a try and several busts and turnovers was hugely influential and first-five Sheree Hume produced an authoritative display.

 

Hooker Tegan Hollows celebrated her 50th match with a try in the second-half which for the last quarter was dominated by North Harbour.

 

Replacement halfback Lovely Pulotu and prop Vainga Moimoi added real zeal while centre Holly Williams is promising. Hutana is the top points scorer in the competition with 64 points in seven games.

 

Otago have scored 41 tries in six games en-route to the decider.

 

Otago 42 (Olivia Fowler 2, Cheyenne Cunningham 2, Leah Miles, Sheree Hume, Tegan Hollows tries; Georgia Cormick 2 con, pen) North Harbour 17 (Hayley Hutana, Jade Wong, Vainga Moimoi tries; Hutana con)

 

 

The Farah Palmer Cup final details are:

 

FPC Championship Final - Otago v Hawke's Bay

Saturday 10th September

Clutha Showgrounds, Balclutha

12.35pm KO

 

FPC Premiership Final - Canterbury v Auckland

Saturday 10th September

Rugby Park, Christchurch

3.05pm KO