SUPER RUGBY AUPIKI – MORE SPECTACULAR ACTION – HOWEVER WHY SUCH A SHORT SEASON

Really good point made in The Podium podcast in New Zealand this week by commentator Honey Hiram-Smiler. 

She believes as do I that New Zealand rugby has once again dropped the ball by not increasing the amount of matches in Super Rugby Aupiki or combining with Australian teams on the back of the huge wave of momentum created by the magnificent women’s World Cup.

SUPER RUGBY AUPIKI TEAMS

Already halfway through a ridiculously short five week season which includes one full round-robin then semifinals and final for the four teams, the former Black Fern said that this season’s play is a step up from last year but that New Zealand rugby had “missed the boat” and should have expanded straight away with two New Zealand rounds and a third round against Australian teams.

Judging by the brilliant rugby served up so far by the women it’s hard to argue with her views and it seems as though a big opportunity to grow the women’s game even further and quicker has been lost.

The goal kicking in all games was first class and deadly accurate.

Last weekend’s round of Super Rugby Aupiki served up some brilliant rugby from all the teams and another nail-biter with first round winners Matatu pipped 25-24 by the Hurricanes Poua in Christchurch.

Only desperate defence kept Matatu at bay as replacement hooker Natalie Delamere was help up over their goaline on full-time.

There were some brilliant tries scored by both teams with Black Ferns World Cup stars Jonah Ngan-Woo capping off a great performance for the winners with a try.

Their front row of Krystal Murray, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate and Cilia-Marie-Poe-Tofaeono shone throughout, particularly around the park as well as doing their job at set piece time.

Winger Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly was another to impress scoring a couple of tries.

Fullback Renee Homes was a standout for Matatu scoring twice and kicking a couple of wide angled conversions. Mid-fielder Grace Brooker was a standout for the losing side.

Kennedy Simon of Chiefs Manawa scores a try during the match against Matatū.

Meanwhile reigning champions Chiefs Manawa continued on their barnstorming way, seeing off a spirited challenge from the Blues 50-33 following on from their opening round 53-21 demolition of Hurricanes Poua. The Blues again played much better in the second spell having trailed 7-31 at half-time.

Despite losing several stars to the New Zealand sevens team and Ruby Tui now in a media role and with a new head coach Crystal Kaua, the Chiefs machine is hardly missing a beat.

Their forward pack was again in beast mode led by Black Ferns guns Luka Connor, Tanya Kalounivale, skipper Kennedy Simon and Chelsea Bremner.

On the back of a great platform their brilliant backs cut loose led by three-try winger Mererangi Paul and fellow winger Georgia Daals with two touch downs. Hazel Tubic guided the team around well from first five and kicked superbly for goal, landing six conversions and a penalty, several from difficult wide angles.

Another star was fullback Tenika Willison who provided a match highlight when she freakishly kept her chip kick in play, providing Daals with her second try, the most spectacular of several spectacular scores.

 

Mererangi Paul scored a hat-trick for the Chiefs against the Blues.

It’s going to take something special to prevent the Chiefs Manawa from retaining their title from last year, while there’s a real battle going on amongst the three other evenly matched teams.

A special day also for two new referees in this competition, Natasha Ganley from North Harbour and Waikato’s Michael Winter, both doing excellent jobs, Winter doing the Hurricanes Poua v Matatu clash and Ganley the Chiefs Manawa v Blues game.

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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