The clash between the high-flying Bay of Plenty Volcanix and Tasman set the scene for a entertaining day of rugby at Tauranga Domain yesterday.
The Volcanix consolidated their position at the top of the Farah Palmer Cup standings after four games with a 38-15 win over a vastly improved Tasman side.
Tasman made a good start, with an early charge into the Volcanix 22, but a well-taken try to Ora Williams settled the early Volcanix nerves. Fullback Crystal Mayes converted but Tasman struck straight back with a try scored out wide to centre Wairakau Greig.
A startling burst of speed from right winger Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly caught the Tasman defence napping for the Volcanix second try after 20 minutes. The winger was in again 15 minutes later with another sharp run to the line to give the Volcanix a handy 21-5 lead at the break.
But the Volcanix were rocked with the first play of the second stanza when Tasman centre Greig raced away for her second unconverted try after another slick backline move.
Normal order was restored when Volcanix prop Luka Connor crashed over after some sustained attack to regain the 16-point advantage. Keeping better control of possession and using their highly skilled passing game paid dividends for the Volcanix, with left winger Sapphire Tapsell finishing off some sustained pressure in the corner.
Greig was sin-binned for a high shot to add to Tasman's woes after 22 minutes with the Volcanix well and truly on top. Another multi-phase move ended with a try under the bar to flanker Christie Yule.
Tasman finished the game superbly with an 80-metre burst after the final hooter that ended with a try to winger Pippa Andrews but it was the Volcanix who took the points to stay unbeaten in 2017.
Volcanix head coach Brendon Webby was pleased with the five points and how his team stuck to the task.
"We were definitely expecting a hard game. They brought a physicality to it but I think our girls might have let themselves down a bit at the breakdown area, mainly the clean-out," Webby said.
"We let them get in and get on the ball a little bit which not only slowed our ball down but they grabbed a couple of crucial turnovers. All in all we are pretty happy."
He says the superior fitness and overall conditioning of the Volcanix this season has much to do with vastly experienced trainer Keith Roberts.
"The last 10 to 15 minutes of every game you can definitely tell we are the superior fitness side. Keith works tirelessly with the girls, obviously on the field and off it. A massive amount of our success this year can be attributed to him and moving forward he is going to play a crucial role."
Volcanix 38 (Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly 2, Ora Williams, Luka Connor, Sapphire Tapsell, Christie Yule tries; Crystal Mayes 3 con) Tasman 15 (Wairakau Greig 2, Pippa Andrews tries) Halftime 21-5.