It was heartbreak for Waikato last year when beaten in injury time, but this time it was Canterbury on the receiving end, after four years on top, when coming up just short as time ran out for Waikato to take the trophy for the first time.
Canterbury started by scoring a try in the first two minutes when from a free kick they tapped and ran for lock Lucy Jenkins to barge over for the try.
A strong wind, at Canterbury's back in the first half, made life difficult at lineout time but both teams looked to use the ball to advantage. Canterbury had more luck but defiant Waikato defence held them out and all that Canterbury could add before halftime were two penalty goals landed by wing Isabella Waterman for a 13-3 lead.
Putting their forward combination to use, Waikato made the most of an incursion into Canterbury's 22m area when prop Awhina Tangen-Wainohu made a strong run. With the pack driving forward, it was Tangen-Wainohu who had reward when crashing through for the try.
Canterbury lost Jenkins around the three-quarter mark to a yellow card for hands in a ruck when the team was on a warning. Waikato seized their chance and from a lineout drive, after a penalty, the whole side committed to the maul and it was replacement hooker Merania Paraone who grabbed the lead for Waikato.
Waikato continued to apply the pressure and it told when lock Stacey Niao was also sin-binned when caught offside leaving Canterbury with 13. Taking a scrum option the weight and numbers advantage was put to use by Waikato for No8 Victoria Edmonds to score and with the conversion they had a nine-point lead with 12 minutes to play.
Some luck kept Canterbury hopes alive when wing Montessa Tairakena had a try ruled out after a TMO check that revealed a knock-on earlier in the movement. That was followed by a high tackle ruled against Kelsey Teneti with four minutes left.
Canterbury kept trying and Waikato kept defending but eventually from a five-metre scrum centre Amy du Plessis broke and passed to supporting prop Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox who scored. Waterman added the conversion but time had run out and Waikato had their win.
Canterbury 20 (Lucy Jenkins, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox tries; Isabella Waterman 2 con, 2 pen) Waikato 22 (Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Merania Paraone, Victoria Edmonds tries; Kennedy Tahu pen; Tenika Willison 2 con). HT: 13-3
Manawatu proved too strong for Hawke's Bay when claiming a convincing nine tries to two, 55-12 win to take the Bunnings Farah Palmer Cup Championship title in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Manawatu put their lineout drive to early use, scoring their first try two minutes into the game when prop Marylin Live drove over. But Hawke's Bay showed early determination when fullback Michaela Baker joined the line and gave wing Harmony Kautai room, and time, to go over in the tackle out wide.
Rather than use the lineout maul in Hawke's Bay's 22m area, Manawatu put the ball through their backs for wing Rangimarie Sturmey to score their second try while good work in returning a goal-line drop out saw Lucy Brown cross three minutes later.
Sensing they had the advantage on the outsides Manawatu threw the ball around scoring two more tries to go to the break up 26-5.
The momentum continued into the second half as Manawatu lined up wave after wave of running opportunities to take advantage of weary Hawke's Bay defence.
Replacement wing Alicia Williams finished it off with two tries, the second the individual effort of the day after fielding a Bay toe ahead and then turning to beat three players on her way to the line.
Manawatu 55 (Marylin Live, Rangi-Marie Sturmey, Lucy Brown, Kaia Walker-Waitoa, Crystal Mayes, Sam Tipene, Carys Dallinger, Alicia Williams 2 tries; Dallinger 5 con) Hawke's Bay 12 (Harmony Kautai, Tamia Edwards tries; Krysten Cottrell con). HT: 26-5