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Chiefs Manawa remain only unbeaten team in Super Rugby Aupiki

Chiefs Manawa remain only unbeaten team in Super Rugby Aupiki

All BlacksMarch 10, 2024

Chiefs Manawa are the only unbeaten side in Super Rugby Aupki after doggedly resisting the Blues 17-10 at Bell Park, home of the Pakuranga Rugby Club.

“It’s pretty blowing eh!” Blues captain Maia Roos complained when asked about the swirly and persistent wind that blew across the field towards the eastern corner throughout.

The demanding climate often wreaked havoc; basic handling, passing, and kicking made haphazard. “It's like spitting on a rollercoaster” a grumpy spectator complained.

Still, it was a gripping, fierce, and entertaining spectacle where honours could have been shared. In the 78th minute Blues reserve halfback Kahlia Awa muscled over the line and claimed a try beside the posts. An examination from the television match official spotted a slight fumble before the ball was extracted from the ruck.

The Chiefs Manawa had the wind at their backs in the first half and started with gusto, jumping to a 12-0 lead after 14 minutes.

Black Ferns winger Ruby Tui scored the first try trampling over the top of smaller opposite Jaymie Kolose who couldn’t stop her Counties teammate. Repeated phases and penalties led to increasing Chiefs momentum and a wilting Blues defense on the blindside.

Manawa second five Grace Steinmetz crossed in the same corner in similar circumstances only moments later.  Steinmetz covers multiple positions in the backline.

The Chiefs Manawa lead could have been larger. For a second successive week, Niall Williams-Guthrie saved a certain try, this time with a lunging ankle tap on Mererangi Paul.

The Blues weren’t without promise in possession, but insecure handling proved a hamstring. Patrial breaks went unrewarded, and the Chiefs withstood a barrage inside their 22 before the break.

The Blues breakthrough arrived in the 44th minute when bustling No.8 Tafito Lafaele refused to submit easily before the paint. The conversion attempt by the first five Krysten Cottrell was taken in front of the sticks 20 meters out. It was charged down Cheslin Kolbe style by the zestful and calculated Tui.

In the 50th minute, the Chiefs lost reserve loose forward Chyna Hohepa to a yellow card for persistent infringements. Sixty seconds later Blues halfback Mel Puckett capitalized on the Chiefs shortage of troops.

Inexplicably the easy conversion was missed after the ball fell off the tee as Cottrell was through her stride before striking the ball. Cottrell volleyed a missile into the head of an unsuspecting victim.

If that was harsh, the weather was outright voodoo for the Blues. In the 57th minute, a penalty clearance flirted with the touchline. Blues fullback Patricia Maliepo leaped six feet off the ground, eight if you count the wind, to palm the ball back to a colleague. Instead, she slapped it to Grace Kukutai who gleefully strode clear for a try.  Kukutai is a worldly talent. She played professional netball for the Northern Mystics and Sevens in Japan, the USA, Dubai, and South Africa.

The Chiefs Manawa were largely anchored inside their territory for the remainder of the contest, steadfast tackling juxtaposed against the impatience Blues.

The Blues breakdown work was disruptive and supplied ample chances. The Chiefs scrum superior. Chiefs captain and openside Kennedy Simon, evergreen No.8 Victoria Edmonds and substitute prop Bitila Tawake were among the Chiefs standouts.

Pugnacious pest Roos led the charge for the Blues. Hooker Grace Gago was robust, and Charmaine McMenamin and Awa added spark from the bench

Chiefs Manawa: 17 (Ruby Tui, Grace Steinmetz, Grace Kukutai tries, Renee Holmes 1 con) Blues: 10 (Tafito Lafaele, Mel Puckett tries)


The Hurricanes Poua put on a rousing performance in a 36-29 defeat of defending champions Matatū at Sky Stadium.

The final margin of victory was only a converted try, but the Poua were thoroughly deserving victors outscoring the hosts six tries to four and trailing for just a dozen minutes.

Prop Pasilio Tosi was the hero for the Hurricanes men in their narrow victory over the Reds on Sunday. His extra time try secured an exhausting triumph. Female counterpart Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono wrote herself into franchise folklore this afternoon with a 76th-minute try to break a 29-29 tie.

With no regard for self-preservation, the Poua mercilessly pounded away at Matatū's defense, southern steel crumbling when Marie Po’e-Tofaeono dragged several defenders with her over the paint. Talk about quashing a chip on the shoulder. Isabella Walterman was on target with a tricky, angled conversion.

“It means a lot; we’ve had a hard couple of days. We said this game was a must-win. We showed it through our actions this week rather than our words,” Hurricanes captain Jackie Patea-Fereti told Sky Sports afterward.

Matatū pilfered the restart and simmered ominously again until the other reserve prop Tamia Edwards padlocked herself correctly to a ruck and terminated a stoic but sometimes clumsy Matatū.

Seven minutes early Matatū surgically unpicked the Poua defense constructing an astonishing 20 phases. Black Ferns tightened Amy Rule finished as the hosts searched for breathing apparatus.

The Poua conceded first when prop Leilani Perese conceded a penalty and Rosie Kelly chipped over three points in the third minute. It’s not the first time this week Perese incurred the wrath of officialdom; the loosehead prop after that determined and efficient in her work.

In the eighth minute, Poua scored their first try. Livewire blindside Elinor-Plum King charged down a Kelly clearance and Monica Tagoai proved too powerful close to the line.

Matatū was earnestly aware of the Tagoai threat but seemed to ignore her midfield partner Shakira Baker. The Poua centre scored two tries, the first after nifty footwork to dance past the last woman standing. Just before halftime, Poua stripped possession and fired it wide to Baker who found a gaping hole and stormed away. The score at the interval was 19-15.

The visitors had rallied to lead 15-12 after Kelly sliced through to score by the sticks before Liv McGoverne wriggled tenaciously from the grasp of Poua.

A minute into the second half Pip showed too much Love to Poua winger Harmony Kautai who snatched an intercept try on halfway.

Poua was rampant. In the 51st minute, they skipped to an almost inconceivable 29-15 advantage when strapping winger Leilani Hakiwai crossed.

Poua waned badly against Manawa and history appeared to be repeating itself when a Kaipo Olsen-Baker try in the 64th minute commenced a furious comeback. Instead, Poua remained claim and regained the ascendancy for the most memorable victory of their short existence. Matatū skipper Alana Bremner humbly said.

“It was an awesome spectate for the crowd, disappointing for us. We’ve got a lot to work on. Our error rate let us down. The Poua we’re good today.”

Hurricanes Poua: 36 (Shakira Baker 2, Monica Tagoai, Harmony Kautai, Hakiwai, Cilia-Marie Po'e-Tofaeono tries; Isabella Waterman 3 cons) Matatū: 29 (Rosie Kelly, Live McGoverne, Olsen-Baker, Amy Rule, tries; Kelly 1 pen, 3 cons)

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