Five-minute brawl halts women's rugby match

HASTINGS - A women's rugby match on Saturday came to an abrupt halt after a five-minute brawl that saw a player kicked in the head and two players sent off in a Flaxmere derby in Hastings.

Referee Brad Gichard sent MAC lock Tessa Flowers and Western Suburbs No 8 Ngavero Heather for an early shower in the second half of a Tui women's division clash at Ron Giorgi Park.

MAC walloped Suburbs 103-0 after leading 71-0 at halftime in a match that started at 11.45am.

The free-for-all erupted after Flowers and Heather allegedly traded punches with about 20 minutes of play remaining following a player doing "a tap dance" on Suburbs flanker Sheena Tonihi who was caught on the wrong side of a ruck.

Calmer elements in the teams separated Flowers and Heather but just when things looked under control, a punch was thrown, which was answered by a kick.

That ignited a brawl that saw water carriers and officials and spectators running on to the field to bring the hotheads under control.

Amid the scuffle, Heather fell to the ground while a flurry of blows was rained on her.

A dazed MAC flanker, Lynne Mareikura, was treated following a kick to the head.

Referee Gichard consulted both sides before the game was completed with teams playing 14 players each.

MAC manager Honey Cardie, who videotaped the game for the purposes of post-match analysis, said the teams were waiting for the referee's match report before submitting their cases at this week's judicial hearing.

Fans who saw the match describe their traditional rivalry as an aunts-versus-aunts and cousins-versus-cousins clash.

- NZPA

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