After four weeks of their 2019 Farah Palmer Cup campaign, the Bay of Plenty Volcanix have finally tasted victory to secure their first win of the season - a flavour they hope to continue to experience. It may have been messy at times and it wasn't easy, but it was clear the Bay women wanted the win. The team had to step up, maintain the pressure for the full 80 minutes and lift their intensity, which is exactly what they did. Sports reporter Adyn Ogle finds out what they did differently in their round-four match to snag the win over Waikato.
Intense hunger from Bay of Plenty in their match against Waikato gave them their first taste of victory for the season and renewed confidence for their Farah Palmer Cup campaign.
The Volcanix beat rivals Waikato 26-21 in Hamilton in their fourth-round match - a victory built around the ferocious intent of their ball-carriers. Captain Christie Yule said the team needed some mongrel to get the job done.
"I am most proud that they got the win. The girls took that step and maintained the pressure for 80 minutes," Yule said.
The final 15 minutes of the game was a clincher for the Volcanix, who found the energy to lift another gear.
"That was the time for us to stand up, lift the intensity and go in for the kill," she says.
"We have that desire and ability and it is something I am hoping will open the floodgates and then we play some fine rugby for the rest of the season."
The Volcanix started sharply before absorbing the pressure Waikato applied, and were rewarded when Sapphire Tapsell scored her fourth try of the season in the 19th minute. It came on the back of a charge into the Waikato 22 by Kendra Reynolds, and her team made the most of the next couple of phases to send Tapsell over the line.
Reynolds set the tone for the match and the Volcanix grew in confidence. This was superbly displayed by 19-year-old first-five Arorangi Tauranga, who frequently took the ball to the line.
Waikato hit back and added to their earlier penalty and took a one-point lead. Things looked troubling for the Volcanix when second-five Azalleyah Maaka, an injury replacement for Black Fern Renee Wickliffe, left the field with an injury. Coach Rodney Gibbs says she will not return to action this season after chipping bone in her ankle.
The Volcanix may have been lucky to score their second try when Angel Mulu crashed over the line and, despite replays showing she may have dropped the ball, the try was awarded to the angst of the Waikato players.
The second half would have provided more frustration for the home side as less than a minute after the break Volcanix winger Natalie Walford latched onto a loose Waikato pass and scampered 30m to score. And with Tapsell's conversion, the Bay had an 11-point lead.
Waikato again responded with their second try and when Black Fern Chelsea Alley kicked another penalty, the lead was cut to one point. But the Volcanix showed their character as they smashed into the Waikato defence for eight phases before unleashing the backline, with Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly scoring in the corner. Tapsell was again on target with the conversion to restore the eight-point margin.
Waikato pushed hard to get back into the match but the Volcanix were able to repel the onslaught and with time up they were awarded a penalty. Alley chose to take the shot to ensure her side came away with a bonus point.
While handling errors and a high penalty count may be of some concern to Gibbs, he says he is stoked with the result.
"It has been a big shift in want and intensity. It was messy at times, but I am stoked for the girls. They will take a lot of confidence from that. The ball carrying was very good and the collision area was good again, it is a tough area to grasp but I'm really happy with how they have progressed in that area. I think they enjoyed it," Gibbs said.
After losses to Counties-Manukau, Wellington and Auckland the win in Hamilton boosts their chances of making the top four. They have the bye this week before playing their remaining fixtures against Manawatu and defending champions Canterbury.
"They haven't dropped their heads at all and they have kept working hard," Gibbs says.
"It was great to see them get rewarded for that hard work.
"We will train as normal, this week and maybe modify things and enjoy each other's company. Then we can have the weekend off. It will be good to have that rest and when you have a long turnaround like that, it is nice to go into it with a good feeling."