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Wahine Toa win big in Ashhurst


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Ashhurst-Pohangina 0
Wai Wahine Toa 79

The Wairarapa Wahine Toa bounced back from their heavy first-round loss in the Manawatu women’s rugby championship to cruise to a 13-try victory against Ashhurst-Pohangina on Good Friday.

Wairarapa were thumped 17-95 by the experienced Old Boys Marist in their opening match but found Friday’s inexperienced opponents a completely different proposition.

Like the Wairarapa side, Ashhurst-Pohangina are new to this level of rugby, with many players having limited playing experience or never played before.

Wairarapa controlled the game at Ashhurst from the kickoff running in eight tries against the disjointed home team defence to build a commanding 48-0 halftime lead.

The home side upped their defensive effort in the second spell, but Wairarapa still dotted down for another five tries and a convincing 79-0 scoreline.

The return of captain and former Dutch international tight forward Annemieke van Vliet, who missed the first-round game because of illness, added much-needed experience to the Wairarapa forward pack.

Van Vliet and hooker Waireka Collings scored two tries each, with the rest spread around the team.

Wahine Toa assistant coach Brent Gare felt that the performance was a vast improvement from their opening effort, and everyone got a chance to shine.

“We had only 18 players, and that allowed us to blood some players and give them some good game time and try out some of the stuff we’ve been working on at practice,” said Gare, who was also full of praise for their opponents.

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“They’re in the same boat as us. They’re a brand new side, and many have never played before. They will learn a lot from the game.

“The good thing about women’s rugby is that they just want to play the game, and they love it, and the teams are friendly and enjoy each other’s company after the games.”

Wairarapa’s next outing on Saturday is likely to be a significantly more difficult challenge.

They will host Feilding Old Boys Oroua, who were beaten 32-34 on Friday by competition heavyweights Old Boys Marist.

Already the competition looks to have two distinct divisions, with Old Boys Marist, Feilding Old Boys Oroua, and Kia Toa appearing to be head and shoulders above the other four teams — Wairarapa, Ashhurst-Pohangina, Bush, and Whanganui.

Meanwhile, Wairarapa-Bush executive officer Tony Hargood confirmed that nine teams will play in the senior reserve championship, with only Puketoi missing from last season.

The teams play a series of festival matches on Saturday before the competition starts on Saturday, April 30.

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