Christie Yule Photo / Getty Images GettyImages-1042401684.JPG
By Kristin Macfarlane
The Bay of Plenty Volcanix have already scored a history-making win over the Auckland Storm this season, but they're hoping to do it a second time on their home ground tomorrow.
The Volcanix come up against Auckland in the Farah Palmer Cup Premiership relegation fixture at Tauranga Domain tomorrow and there are a few goals captain Christie Yule hopes to achieve in this final game of the season.
They kick off at 11.30am and she says all the women in the team have been encouraging friends and family to support them and draw a big crowd.
"We'll try and pack out the stadium," she says.
She also wants to win for two reasons - to remain in the Premiership of the competition and to make history twice in one season.
"We want to do well ... we're at home."
Last week the team suffered a narrow 26-22 loss to Counties Manukau, finishing the round robin in fifth, just four points behind fourth-placed Manawatu. The loss meant they now play off for fifth place against Auckland and the loser will be relegated to the second tier Championship division next season.
The team obviously doesn't want that to happen and will be playing their toughest challenge of the season today.
When the Volcanix last played Auckland Storm at the end of September in round five of their seven-week campaign the side secured a 34-29 history-making win.
It was the first time the Bay of Plenty women have ever beaten their Auckland counterparts. In 2015 they lost 101-0 and in 2016 lost 62-0 to the same opponents.
Yule says the women are excited for today's match and will head out on to the field and give everything they have.
Last time they came up against Auckland they worked on playing to their strengths and although the second half wasn't as strong as their first it highlighted some of their weaknesses, which they would aim to focus on today. They'll be playing a similar game this time around but will focus on being able to play their own game for a full 80 minutes.
"We don't want to put ourselves in the same situation."
Head coach Brendon Webby's final line-up sees just one change in the starting forward pack, with prop Braxton Walker starting at loosehead ahead of Angel Mulu.
In the backs, Jade Tuilaepa will return to start at halfback, shifting Ora Williams back to first five in the only changes in the backline.
Hooker Kura Hudson will be hoping to debut off the bench with Rawinia Luka covering loosehead prop. Locking duo of Calli Perrott and Mikyla Wardlaw remain to complete the forward reserves. Te Rina Mohi returns after having been ruled out with sickness last week for cover at first five. Tania Raharuhi and Olivia Richardson retain their position as reserve cover at midfield and wing respectively.
At the end of the game though, Yule says they'll debrief, reflect and enjoy each other's company to celebrate the end of the season.
Next year, Yule says she hopes to remain in the Premiership, playing with a lot of the same women as this season.
"The season is only seven games long, halfway through we sort of came into our own."
Players work well together and initial conversations between each other have found most want to "give it another nudge" for a higher finish next season, which is good news for the team, Yule says.
Bay of Plenty Volcanix team to play Auckland today:
Baye Jacob (17)
Lily Florence (19)
Braxton Walker (6)
Kate Henwood (19)
Amanda Aldridge (11)
Kendra Reynolds (25)
Les Elder (9)
Christie Yule (18) (C)
Jade Tuilaepa (9)
Ora Williams (12)
Emily Magee (4)
Renee Wickliffe (5)
Hana Tapiata (14)
Polly Playle (12)
Sapphire Tapsell (19)
Rawinia Luka (4)
Calli Perrott (20)
Mikyla Wardlaw (11)
Te Rina Mohi (2)
Tania Raharuhi (13)
Olivia Richardson (3)