The Hawke's Bay Tui women's rugby team dedicated their drubbing of Taranaki on Friday night to loosie Kathleen Brown and her family.
"Kathleen's brother Isaac died in a snorkelling accident near Gisborne last weekend. Kathleen brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this team. I told each of the players to take a piece of that out on the field for her. Kathleen would have been proud of the team," Big Barrel Hawke's Bay Tui head coach Steve Woods said after his unbeaten Farah Palmer Cup Championship leaders 74-0 third-round victory at Napier's McLean Park.
However, the win was a costly one as Tui co-captain and No 8 Gemma Woods will miss the next three weeks with concussion.
"Gemma had a niggly hamstring and at halftime, I told her to come off. Gemma said she wanted 10 more minutes and three minutes into the half she collected a head knock. All going to plan she will be back for the semifinals," Woods said.
He agreed he could not have asked for more from his team.
"The fact Taranaki missed 33 tackles and we only missed four sums up how well the girls played," Woods added.
Liana Mikaele-Tu'u who was playing in the second row for the first time in her starting XV debut impressed with her powerful carries. Mikaele-Tu'u has played most of her rugby as a loosie.
The impact provided by the Tui bench was top shelf. However, it was the fact the Tui kept the Whio scoreless which was the most pleasing aspect in the build-up to tougher games to come.
"Keeping them scoreless was a big goal. We work for each other on defence," delighted co-captain and blindside flanker Hannah Brough said afterwards.
After dominating the early possession and territory it took the Tui just three minutes to open the scoring. Openside flanker Niamh Jeffersen dived over after sustained pressure from the Tui pack. Black Ferns first five-eighth Krysten Cottrell added the conversion.
Four minutes later fullback Shaylee Tipiwai scored after a good burst from winger Michaela Baker. Cottrell converted from out wide.
The Tui proved their lineout drive was just as good as the Magpies has been this season when co-captain and No 8 Gemma Woods scored from one in the 15th minute. Two minutes later Tui winger Tori Iosefo had too much power and speed for the Whio defence and her try put the hosts ahead 24-0.
Taranaki enjoyed some good phase play but were unable to score. Cottrell gathered in a kick ahead from her Whio counterpart Brooke Sim and sent second five-eighth Chanel Atkin away on a 40m run to score in the 26th minute. Cottrell again converted from out wide.
After being held up in the tackle of two Whio defenders Woods scored after breaking off the back of the 5m scrum in the 34th minute. The Tui maintained their 36-0 lead until the halftime whistle.
A further six tries in the second half, two each to Brough and substitute prop Moomooga Palu and one each to substitute outside backs Cortez Te Pou and Nicolette Adamson displayed the class coach Woods has at his disposal.
Halfback Iritana Hohaia and second five-eighth Chelsea Fowler had some memorable moments for Taranaki but overall it was a disappointing display from Taranaki as captain and No 8 Jalana Smith was quick to acknowledge afterwards.
"It was a huge disappointment," Smith said.
Hawke's Bay Tui 74 (Niamh Jeffersen, Shaylee Tipiwai, Gemma Woods 2, Tori Iosefo, Chanel Atkin, Hannah Brough 2, Moomooga Palu 2, Cortez Te Pou, Nicolette Adamson tries; Krysten Cottrell 3, Sylvia Bockman 4 cons), Taranaki 0. HT: 36-0.