Northland Kauri captain Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate was the star of the show yesterday as Northland's women's rugby team booked their place in a Farah Palmer Cup semifinal with a win over the Taranaki Whio.
The Kauri, playing as part of a Northland Rugby double-header at Whangārei's Semenoff Stadium, overcame a spirited Whio outfit 32-14, mainly through captain Ngata-Aerengamate who scored three first half tries.
The win secured an away semifinal against either Hawke's Bay or Otago next weekend. The Kauri's victory was complemented by the men's team (Taniwha), who broke an eight-game losing streak against Otago, winning 40-10.
Going into their quarter-final against Taranaki yesterday, the Kauri would have been confident after beating the same team just two weeks ago in Inglewood. Now on home turf, Northland looked menacing for the first 20 minutes before they scored through hooker Ngata-Aerengamate.
The Kauri captain scored twice more before halftime and a Taranaki try right on the hooter saw the home side lead 19-7 at the break. After 10 minutes of dominance in the first 10 minutes for the home side in the second half, first five Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali bagged the first of her two tries to lead 24-7.
Taranaki, who had played with fight throughout the game, fired back soon after with a try to second five Chelsea Fowler, but it would be in vain as a second try to Subritzky-Nafatali and a penalty to number eight Krystal Murray secured the 32-14 win.
"Pleased to win today but a lot of work-ons," Ngata-Aerengamate said.
"The referee wasn't on our side, we were talking too much and [poor] discipline at the ruck, which is something we need to work on."
Ngata-Aerengamate said she was very proud of her team for beating a tough Taranaki team, which the Kauri captain felt played better than the scoreline suggested.
In earlier rounds, Northland lost heavily to both Hawke's Bay and Otago, 64-31 and 40-7 respectively. Ngata-Aerengamate pledged her team would be ready to meet either side head-on in the semifinal.
"Five games under our belt now, we know how each other play and we'll definitely have a game plan this time round and it will be a lot better than the first time we played them, that's for sure," she said.
Northland's men's team must have been buoyed by the news of a maiden semifinal for the Kauri as the Taniwha broke an eight-game losing streak as they beat Otago to avoid the Mitre 10 Cup championship wooden spoon for 2019.
Tries to Aorangi Stokes, Matt Matich and braces to Scott Gregory and Jordan Hyland completed the team's best performance this season against a dispirited Otago side.
With 11 players out with injury ahead of yesterday's game, the Taniwha did well to pull off a big win with a number of slick backline moves to finish their season.