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Captain clinches victory

WOMEN

Wairarapa-Bush 12

Thames Valley 10

Captain Lisa Te Moananui was the toast of her Wairarapa-Bush teammates as she scored at the death to secure third place in the inaugural North Island Heartland Women’s Championship.

Thames Valley had taken the lead with only three minutes left to run in the third-fourth playoff match, which was played in driving wind and rain at Taupō’s Owen Delaney Park on Saturday.

But Wai-Bush were not done, and from the restart, they pinned their opponents deep in their half, forcing several penalties before first-five Te Moananui crashed over wide out to snatch the victory.

The win also avenged their round-robin loss when Thames Valley had scored in the final minute.

Co-coach Brent Gare was thrilled with the spirit and determination within the team.

“They just played their arses off, and it was so impressive,” Gare said.

“When Thames Valley scored their second try, we had spent 10 minutes on our line on defence, and it was just phase after phase of defence. You couldn’t have asked for anything more, and their defensive effort was massive.”

In the classic game of two halves, Wai-Bush dominated possession and territory in the first half and took an early lead with a try to openside flanker Corrineke Windle converted by Kate Donald.

Thames Valley took control in the second half before Wai-Bush had the final say and wrapped up the bronze medal.

King Country held on to upset previously unbeaten Whanganui 19–12 in the title decider.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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