The Hawke‘s Bay Tuis women‘s rugby team have sufficient depth to be competitive in this season‘s Farah Palmer Cup competition which begins on September 1.
The Tuis were playing without five first stringers Black Ferns first five-eighth Krysten Cottrell, who was on international duty across the Tasman, captain and 2006 world champion Black Fern Amy Williams, No 8 Gemma Woods, fullback Shaylee Tipiwai and experienced midfield back Te Maari MacGregor, who were all out of town at a wedding.
Yet they recorded their second pre-season win from as many matches with a 32-25 victory against the Manawatu Cyclones at Napier‘s Park Island on Saturday.
“It was heart warming. Our scrum dominated and our set piece play was good,” Tuis coach Steve Woods said.
Winger Tori Iosefo scored three tries for the hosts and retired three-time world champion Black Fern Emma Jensen, 40, was classy in the halfback role. She scanned well and kicked into space with intelligence.
Powerful No 8 Kathleen Brown, openside flanker Chanel Huddleston and hooker Jessie Taueki had high workrates in the Tuis pack.
The Tuis led 22-5 at halftime and the Cyclones fought back well in the second half with the wind at their backs. Woods said his troops displayed a lot of heart on defence during this period.
The Hawke‘s Bay Saracens also maintained their unbeaten pre-season run with a 34-19 victory against the Whanganui Heartland team in Marton. This was their third outing for the season and the Saracens trailed 19-12 at halftime.
Openside flanker Nathan Tweedy was the only Saracens player to stand out during a lack-lustre first half from the visitors. The line speed improved and there was more physicality from the Saracens in the second half.
Magpies openside flanker Fa‘alemiga Selesele impressed with impact in the second spell. Fellow substitute Matt Gardner was also full of authority in the No 8 and blindside flanker roles.
Replacement halfback Trent Hape again made the most of his minutes.
The Hawke‘s Bay under-19s got what manager Mike Smith described as “a reality check” when they were thrashed 47-7 by their Wellington counterparts in the capital yesterday. Wellington led 40-0 at halftime.
Openside flanker Trei Nepe-Apatu was tireless on defence. Substitutes Clerk Kopelani and Nikau McGregor shone with their impact in the second five-eighth and wing positions respectively.
Their team has two more pre-season outings before their September 8-15 national tournament in Taupo.