Mariu magic guides Stingrays home
Mariu magic guides Stingrays home
When Counties Manukau needed a little inspiration to defend their NZRL National Women’s crown, they found it in veteran international Laura Mariu.
Carrying a heavy injury toll into the final against archrivals Akarana Falcons, the South Aucklanders had enough depth to repulse the challenge 34-0 at Puketawhero Park, Rotorua.
And, in their seventh game over three days, the experience and skill of Mariu provided the spark in a 22-point first half.
The Stingrays opened the scoring, when Mariu carved through the defence and laid off a perfect pass for Louisa Gago to storm over.
The lead reached double figures, after Langi Veainu fielded a wayward clearing kick and had too much gas for the Falcons to cover down the left sideline.
Mariu converted and then fed an inside ball to Kiwi Ferns team-mate Maitua Feterika for the third try. She provided her third try assist of the half for Karly Te Kawa and, by the break, Akarana were merely searching for some consolation.
They had barely ventured outside their own half through the opening 30 minutes, but pounded away at the Counties line for much of the second half, without reward.
Instead, the Stingrays showed they were capable of manufacturing points from inside their own territory. From a turnover and scrum feed, Veainu found some space and galloped 80 metres for her second try.
Mariu was duly named Most Valuable Player of the final, with captain Sarina Fiso earning overall tournament honours.
“If we had had to play one more game, we probably would only have fielded about five players,” Fiso admitted, surveying her battered crew afterwards.
“This was a hard battle, and the score probably didn’t reflect how hard it was and how hard it felt.”
Loaded with Kiwi Ferns internationals, the Stingrays were probably expected to carry the day, but Fiso paid tribute to team management for bringing the group together.
“They made a group of brilliant individual players into a great team and two months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that.”
Their dominance was reflected in the national squad named afterwards, with 11 players in a 28-strong group and several others included through dispensation.
But, in his first squad selection, Ferns coach Alan Jackson drew far and wide for his players, with a view towards next year’s Anzac Test against Australia.
The Kiwi Ferns training squad are:
Mary Jane Ale (Wellington), Ngatokotoru Arakua (Akarana), Anita Berry (Akarana), Aleasha Brider (Mid Central), Alexandra Cook (Akarana), Maitua Feterika (Counties Manukau), Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau), Teuila Fotu-Moala (Counties Manukau), Georgia Hale (Akarana), Amber Kani (Counties Manukau), Sita Kuruyabaki (Mid Central), Tori Lauvoa-Araia (Mid Central), Te Maari MacGregor (Mid Central), Kelly Maipi (Counties Manukau), Laura Mariu (Counties Manukau), Lilieta Maumau-Pinomi (Counties Manukau), Vanessa Molia-Fraser (Akarana), Sieni Mose (Wellington), Krystal Murray (Mid Central), Kimi Nati (Counties Manukau), Annetta Nuuausala (Auckland), Kahurangi Peters (Counties Manukau), Yasmin Puru-Tongia (Canterbury), Krystal Rota (Counties Manukau), Kristina Sue (Mid Central), Crystal Tamarua (Akarana), Tasha Tapu (Akarana), Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau)
NZRL NATIONAL WOMEN'S
Puketawhero Park, Rotorua
Sunday, September 28
Wellington Orcas 28 (Sieni Mose 3, Shayna Kidwell, Elaine Akavi & Ana Pereira tries; Acacia Claridge goal) Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 10 (Sarah Bass 2 tries; Jamie Tautari goal): HT: 14-6
Central Vipers 14 (Kristina Sue 2 & Freedom Giddy tries; Talia Poutini-Lawrence goal) Auckland Vulcans 6 (Petronella Lefale try; Irian Huriway-Sasulu goal); HT: 4-6
Counties Manukau Stingrays 34 (Langi Veainu 2, Joephay Daniels, Maitua Feterika, Louisa Gago & Karly Te Kawa tries) Akarana Falcons 0; HT:22-0
Most Valuable Player (Final): Laura Mariu (Counties Manukau)
Final officials: Rochelle Tamarua, Antoinette Grootjans & Gina Te Rongomou
Referee of the Tournament: Antoinette Grootjans
Manager of the Tournament: Renee Puru (Canterbury)
Trainer/Medic of the Tournament: Alan Horn (Counties Manukau)
Coach of the Tournament: Shaun Clark (Counties Manukau)
"More Than Just A Game" Fairplay Team: Auckland Vulcans
Back of the Tournament: Annetta Nuuausala (Auckland Vulcans)
Forward of the Tournament: Krystal Murray (Central Vipers)
Player of the Tournament: Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau)