In many ways, sport is theatre. Every weekend brings multiple storylines with themes of redemption and reward, victory and heartbreak. The Baywide Premier women's rugby competition is no different with its many rivalries, star players and hard-hitting action. Today, the stage was set as Rangataua hosted Rangiuru, the team they beat 22-21 in last year's final. They were the top two teams throughout the 2018 season, nobody else came close, and for Rangiuru this weekend's round three match-up was an opportunity to put that loss behind them and gain some real momentum early in the 2019 season.
This time around for Rangiuru, they were able to overcome a slow start to the match and go on to win 29-24.
Rangiuru captain Christie Yule said the best word to describe the feeling after the game was "redemption".
"We also had a lot of emotion going through the team this week, a few events that spurred us so that's certainly put a bit of wind through the sails. One of the girls' father passed away unexpectedly and another girl who was with us last year was in a crash. So we just pulled together as a unit."
Rangiuru may have been having flash backs to that Baywide final loss last season when they started slowly and trailed early on.
Rangataua were dominant in the opening 20 minutes and turned the pressure into points as they took a 12-0 lead through tries to Black Ferns Sevens representative Gayle Broughton, who was electric throughout, and winger Tiana Tait.
Rangiuru hit back 20 minutes into the game with a try to centre Mystery McLean on the back of a strong by fullback Sapphire Tapsell who perfectly summed up the situation to put her teammate in under the posts.
However, Broughton produced some more dazzling footwork down the other end to score her second try and establish a 17-7 lead for Rangataua. They carried that lead into halftime.
Yule said there was plenty talked about during the break.
"There were a lot of messages but I think at the end of the day everyone sort of realised that was the first half, we needed to put in a different performance in the second half and it's only 40 minutes, it's not the rest of our lives, so let's put everything out there."
Whatever the halftime message, it certainly did the trick as Rangiuru completely dominated territory and possession early in the second half. They turned that pressure into points with tries to Chrysler Wineti, Sapphire Tapsell and Baye Jacob, racing out to a 24-17 lead. For Jacob in particular, the five-pointer was just reward for an impressive game in which she broke the defensive line on multiple occasions.
But Broughton continued to be a thorn in the side of Rangiuru and midway through the second half she scored again. The try was converted and the scores were locked at 24-all.
Rangiuru continued to be the dominant side though and with about 10 minutes left scored the match-winning try. Rangataua threw everything at them in response but could not make the break through.
Yule said her side "just kept going for the full 80".
"Rangataua we knew were going to be pushing us, we knew they'd run wide and put a bit of footwork in. We needed a whole team performance and I think in that first half they had a lot of possession and played really well, we just had to come back at them in the second half.
"It's a massive confidence boost, we've got a lot of young girls in there as well and for them to fight like that and rally behind is just fantastic. I think we'll only go from strength-to-strength, we started the game with a really tough game against Whakarewarewa [and drew 20-all] and we've built from there."
Rangataua assistant coach Jamie Keenleyside said he was proud of the effort and never-say-die attitude of his players.
"I thought it was really good, a lot of our girls were playing out of position but we didn't lose anything and we stepped up. We've been working hard on our communication and they did that really well.
"I think in the end our structure and people playing out of position may have played a part but I definitely think the girls did themselves proud, especially considering the quality of the opposition we were playing against."
One thing is for sure, if these two sides meet again in the knockout stages, expect some fireworks.
Baywide Women's Club Rugby Results
Rangataua 24 Rangiuru 29, Whakarewarewa beat Matata, Mount Maunganui 31 vs Waimana 53, Rotoiti BYE.