Waikato has also never won against Canterbury in Christchurch in 13 attempts, but they came close in 2016, only losing by a point. It’s been an impressive season for Waikato, who have rolled big scalps like Auckland and Counties Manukau, while Canterbury had their toughest battle of the season in last week’s semi-final against the Storm. You don’t want to miss this one on Saturday, whether you’re lucky enough to be there or watching live on Sky Sport.
Canterbury v Waikato
2.15pm, Saturday 31 October
Rugby Park Christchurch
Downer Referee: Rebecca Mahoney
Live on Sky Sport NZ
This team is largely unchanged to the side that won their third title last year. However, captain Alana Bremner has led her side by example in her first year as skipper, taking over from the experienced Steph Te Ohaere-Fox. Due to Covid-19 and the change to the pools system in 2020, Canterbury haven’t had the toughest lead in to the finals that they usually would have had, however they were certainly challenged at times by Auckland in Christchurch last weekend. They’ve been here before and they know how to win these big matches and they’ll be especially hard to beat at home.
Player to watch: Kendra Cocksedge
The Black Ferns highest points scorer just keeps on getting better with age. Cocksedge has had a sublime season, leading her team around the park, and scoring a competition-high 73 points so far. If Cocksedge is on, Canterbury is on. Waikato will want to try and shut her out of the game if they’re to get up in this one.
Canterbury team: 1. Phillipa Love 2. Rebecca Todd 3. Amy Rule 4. Chelsea Bremner 5. Cindy Nelles 6. Alana Bremner © 7. Lucy Jenkins 8. Lucy Anderson 9. Kendra Cocksedge 10. Terauoriwa Gapper 11. Sam Curtis 12. Liv McGoverne 13. Grace Brooker 14. Martha Lolohea 15. Grace Steinmetz
Reserves: 16. Trina Greenslade 17. Georgia Ponsonby 18. Angie Sisifa 19. Easter Savelio 20. Sophie O’Cain 21. Isabella Waterman 22. Olivia Coady
In the words of Waikato skipper Chelsea Alley, “Waikato have been in and out [of the competition] since 1992 and have never, ever won a title. It’s our chance to create a legacy in Waikato women’s rugby and create some history.” Alley’s side has everything to play for on Saturday and they would love nothing more than to break Canterbury’s winning streak in Christchurch. They’ve certainly got the side to do it. Seven current Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens players and a raft of exciting up and comers, we’re looking forward to seeing whether history can be made.
Player to watch: Stacey Fluhler
The Black Ferns Sevens superstar has been a joy to watch in the Farah Palmer Cup this year. Fluhler has transitioned back into the 15s game with ease and does it all with a big smile on her face. She’s second-equal on the try-scoring table, with eight tries and she’s been incredibly dangerous with ball in hand for Waikato. Her battle with the also in-form Martha Lolohea will be one to watch.
Waikato team: 1. Toka Natua 2. Grace Houpapa-Barrett 3. Tanya Kalounivale 4. Chyna Hohepa 5. Mia Anderson 6. Ashlee Gaby-Sutherland 7. Emma-Lee Heta 8. Kennedy Simon 9. Ariana Bayler 10. Tenika Willison 11. Stacey Fluhler 12. Chelsea Alley © 13. Carla Hohepa 14. Cheyelle Robins-Reti 15. Renee Holmes
Reserves: 16. Merania Paraone 17. Stephanie Lualua 18. Esther Tilo-Faiaoga 19. Leomie Kloppers 20. Sina Hetet 21. Makaia Riki-Te Kanawa 22. Kelsey Teneti