Hora Hora's women's rugby players proved their quality to claw back a 10-point deficit to win 34-17 against Dargaville OB on Sunday.
With only 11 players to start the game, Dargaville certainly didn't show it as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the Northland premier women's rugby competition fixture.
This was Dargaville's first lead of the season and was achieved through young Dargaville High School prodigy Madison Johnson, who scored two tries early.
Even though Dargaville's number on the field increased, Hora Hora soon settled into their work with more structured play which led to three tries and a 17-10 lead at halftime.
Hora Hora flanker Tui McGeorge made her presence known on the park, scoring three tries and being the main source of the home side's attacking play.
Hora Hora's defensive and offensive execution proved too much for the visitors in the second half, finishing the game with the 34-17 win.
"We should have been at a bit better level with the amount of trainings we've had," Hora Hora coach Rana Paraha said,
"In saying that, I was happy with how we responded and I told them that from the beginning, it was a good game to play and use what we've learned."
Paraha credited Dargaville for their fast start and the defensive pressure they put the home side under throughout the game.
"[Dargaville] are hearty players from the beginning to the end, they are always hearty players with a core team of older heads that they have."
The two other games of the round were defaulted. Hora Hora next play the Kamo Hawks in a preliminary semifinal while the top two teams, Te Rarawa and Kaikohe, have a weekend off. Dargaville will play City RFC to decide who plays Te Rarawa the following week.
Dargaville coach Ron Walters felt a game against City would not be of much value for his players and was considering defaulting. Dargaville lost to City, 123-5, earlier in the season.
"Our girls will still want to play, but we'd get more out of it if we were playing a team around our level."
Regarding the game against Hora Hora, Walters was glad to end the regular season on a good note considering they were short-staffed early in the game.
"It shows huge improvement, we've proven we can match it up front," he said.
"We don't have many backs, but we'll compete with most teams up front and it shows when we got on top of Hora Hora at the start."
Walters hoped his team could learn from the experiences they've had this season and return in 2020, focused on progress.