Vulcans Fall Just Short In National Title Game
An Upper Central try with 10 minutes to go denied the Auckland Vulcans their first national title at women’s level, as they went down 12-10 in Saturday’s National Women’s Championship Grand Final.
After finding themselves behind 8-0 early in the second half, the Vulcans fought back with tries to halfback Kaylarnee Meleisea-Murray and lock Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell, one of which was converted by Jhana Magele to give them a 10-8 lead heading into the final quarter.
But with the game on the line Kiwi Ferns legend Honey Hireme-Smiler stepped up to help deliver the telling blow for Upper Central, linking with Jayde August who barged through Auckland’s defence for the match winner.
Earlier Upper Central’s Autumn Stephens crossed for what turned out to be the only try of first half.
The Vulcans had their chances to hit back in the opening half hour – including a break down the left edge via winger Shannon Muru which finished in a knock on – but couldn’t find a way through.
Hireme-Smiler then scored five minutes into the second stanza to double Upper Central’s advantage, before a momentum shift saw Auckland storm back into the game.
First Meleisea-Murray sliced through for a four-pointer, which Magele converted, before Mt Albert’s Noble-Bell crossed following a strong carry from Richmond veteran Shontelle Woodman.
In the dying minutes the Vulcans still had their chances to come back, but were constantly denied by desperate defence from Upper Central.
Upper Central 12 (Autumn Stephens, Honey Hireme-Smiler, Jayde August tries) def. Auckland Vulcans 10 (Kaylarnee Meleisea-Murray, Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell tries; Jhana Magele 1 goal). At Trusts Stadium.