When Hawke's Bay Tui women's rugby team's replacement lock Rebekah Hurae sat next to coach Steve Woods on the flight to Auckland yesterday she was concerned.
"My cat brought a dead Tui into the house this morning ... I hope that's not a bad omen for us," Hurae said.
It was for her. Six minutes after taking the field she dislocated her shoulder and was taken to hospital with a season-ending injury.
"That's only part of the story. It was a tough win on and off the field," Big Barrel Hawke's Bay Tui head coach Woods said as he reflected on today's 39-10 second round Farah Palmer Cup Championship victory against North Harbour at the East Coast Bays club.
Their first flight to Auckland yesterday was delayed by 50 minutes after being struck by birds as it landed. The second plane which had four of the squad on was cancelled because of engine issues.
Those four players had to fly to Wellington this morning and then catch a flight to Auckland. They arrived at the field 50 minutes before kick off.
Despite the travel delays Hawke's Bay established a 20-3 halftime lead. However North Harbour fought their way back into the match and trailed 20-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
Three tries during the final 15 minutes, including two to powerful substitute prop Moomooga, aka Ashley, Palu eased the tension for Woods and his assistant Shaun Bell.
Centre Michaela Baker, second five-eighth Chanel Atkin and blindside flanker Kathleen Brown scored the Bay's first half tries. First five-eighth Sylvia Bockman kicked a conversion and penalty.
Substitute winger Tori Iosefo scored the Bay's other second half try and Black Ferns first five-eighth Krysten Cottrell, who played fullback, kicked two conversions.
Teani Feleu made her debut for the Tui and made the most of her opportunities during 50 minutes on the left wing. Substitute No 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, a sister of Magpie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, got 40 minutes on debut and had some memorable carries.
Co-captain and No 8 Gemma Woods shifted to loosehead prop during a reshuffle of the Tui pack after Hurae's injury. This means she has played halfback, loose forward and frontrow in her 51-game career for the side.
Coach Woods heaped kudos on his unbeaten team's defensive effort.
"We took a pounding for long periods but our defence was outstanding. That was pleasing as we wanted to fix it after some of those soft tries we leaked against Northland last weekend."
Hawke's Bay will host Taranaki in a 5pm curtainraiser to the Hawke's Bay Magpies match against Taranaki at Napier's McLean Park on Friday night.