The Hawke's Bay Tui got their season back on track with a 21-points win over North Harbour Hibiscus in a Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup women's rugby championship division rugby match in Napier on Saturday.
Down 15-17 and looking vulnerable when the visitors first took the lead after 24 minutes, the Tui stormed back to win 45-24 in good conditions at Tremain Field, Park Island.
The 7-tries-to-4 win came in complete contrast to its opening match at McLean Park a week earlier, when Hawke's Bay was beaten 46-31 by Northland Kauri, after leading 31-22 with 19 minutes to go.
Prepared by former Clive and Taradale Premier men's coach Blair Cross, the Tui with dynamic performances from veteran former skipper Gemma Woods, at flanker, and captain Krysten Cottrell, at first five-eighth, the Tui flourished all of the potential which had been indicated in the previous week's defeat and emerged a now not unlikely contender for honours at the end of the competition.
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A particular feature, from both sides' perspective, was the last seven to eight minutes of the first half, as Hawke's Bay attacked the line but was repeatedly unable to get through the tough North Harbour defence.
With the half ticking past 46 minutes, the barrier was finally breached when Tui flanker Tamia Edwards crashed through for a well-deserved try which with Cottrell's conversion enabled the home side to be up 22-17 at the break.
North Harbour responded and took the lead again early in the second half with a try scored by Inga Timani and converted by Hayley Hutana, but that lead lasted just seven minutes before Woods scored her second try, which, converted by Cottrell, set the scene as the Tui spread their wings to dominate the last quarter.
With the bulk of prop Moomooga Palu and experience of halfback Emma Jensen also prominent, Cottrell's confidence a week earlier that the mix of experienced players and comparative newcomers would "get there" proved more than on the mark, but the Tui now have to step up even more for the bigger challenge of strongly-favoured Manawatu Cyclones in Palmerston North on Friday night.
The Cyclones were playing a Saturday night game against Northland, each hoping to become the 6-team division's only unbeaten side after just two matches each.
It will be followed by a Ranfurly Shield match curtainraiser against Tasman back at McLean Park on August 14, and an away game against Taranaki on August 21.
North Harbour opened with a 35-32 home win over Tasman and next front against Taranaki at North Harbour Stadium on August 8.