HB Tuis 17 Manawatu 57
It was a case of history of the wrong kind in more ways than one for the Hawke's Bay Tuis women's rugby side on Saturday.
The Tuis completed a winless season, of six NPC matches and two pre-season fixtures, with a 57-17 loss to Manawatu at Napier's Park Island.
When halfback Gemma Woods was red-carded by Canterbury referee Nicky Inwood for punching in the 73rd minute she became the first Tui to be ordered off in a first-class fixture.
Woods' ordering off and losing the Attenborough-McBeth Cup to Manawatu reflected a turbulent week for the Tuis.
It began at Tuesday night's training session when the side's most experienced player, openside flanker and former Aotearoa Sevens representative Chanel Huddleston, quit the team. Huddleston, who had played 56 first class games for the side since her 2000 debut, was reportedly unhappy about having to play in the backs for a second consecutive week because of injuries.
Earlier in the season the long-serving Tuis captain was told by coach Arthur Brown the captaincy had been taken off her so she could focus on her openside role with the aim of securing a Black Ferns trial.
"I don't want to get into a shit fight in the paper over Chanel's absence but there are a couple of issues related to her's and Davina's non selections today," Brown said referring to Huddleston's Napier Technical clubmate, outside back Davina Winiata.
Brown agreed his pre-season prediction of a semifinal finish for his troops was in hindsight a bold one.
He said he would have to wait until after his end-of-season review with the Hawke's Bay union to find out if he will get the opportunity to redeem this season's results next year.
As he pointed out there were still positives in Saturday's loss. The Tuis scrum was again dominant. Flanker Amy Pettman was again inspirational in all aspects of play; however it was disappointing she lacked the necessary support on several occasions when she busted the defensive line.
There has been considerable improvement since the start of the season in the forwards' pick-and-go.
Workaholic lock Kataraina Clarke burned plenty of calories for the cause.
On a couple of occasions the forwards gained valuable metres before Woods kicked the ball away aimlessly once the Tuis entered Manawatu's 22.
The Tuis backs missed too many tackles and their transitional play was poor.
Tuis first five-eighth Krysten Duffill was again forced to make tackles which weren't hers and Manawatu could have scored 70 points had she not covered tirelessly throughout the match.
Former Tui and world champion Black Fern Amy Williams played second five-eighth in a classy Manawatu backline.
Another former Tui and Black Fern, Marina Canterbury, played No8 for the visitors.
Fullback Selica Winiata and centre Shakira Baker, who both scored two tries, were impressive visitors.
The Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team also completed a winless season with Saturday's 21-10 loss to their Poverty Bay counterparts in Wairoa.
"It was one of those games which could have gone either way and Poverty Bay were just that little bit better," HB coach Riccardo Fox said.
HB captain/blindside flanker Robbie Brigham led by example, scoring all of his team's points with a try, conversion and penalty during what Fox described as "an exceptional individual performance".
Halfback Angus Kilmister and second five-eighth Denon Robinson were the best of the HB backs.