The Baywide Premier women's rugby competition is constantly growing as more and more women take up the sport. Yesterday, Mount Maunganui and Rotoiti, two sides brimming with raw, ready to be nurtured talent, went head-to-head at Emery Park. Mount Maunganui are the new to the competition this year while the majority of Rotoiti's players have never played before. What these sides also have in common is a wealth of enthusiasm and a strong willingness to learn. Both have improved greatly since the start of the season meaning this was always going to be a thrilling encounter. Sports reporter David Beck was there.
Mount Maunganui lock Karli Faneva was one of 10 uncapped players named in the 2019 Black Ferns squad last month.
Against Rotoiti yesterday she gave us a taste of why the selectors chose her.
In what was an evenly contested match for the most part, Faneva was the difference, scoring a quick-fire hat-trick in the first half and producing a couple of try assists as well. Rotoiti simply could not cope with her power and speed and ended up going down 41-17.
The first 15 minutes of the game was an arm wrestle in the middle of the field. Mount Maunganui eventually worked their way into the Rotoiti 22m and Faneva sliced through a gap to score the opening try.
She scored two more tries in the next 10 minutes, both dazzling runs from inside her own half, and Mount Maunganui led 19-0 at halftime.
Rotoiti gave themselves a chance of a comeback with a try to prop Te Oriwa Ahuriri, who skittled defenders as she charged to the try line.
However, mount Maunganui added tries to first five Lauryn Bons and flanker Lynn Koelman to stretch the lead to 33-7 and effectively seal victory.
Rotoiti scored two tries to reduce the deficit before, late in the second half, Faneva went on another powerful run and laid on a try for teammate Ani Dickson. It was Dickson's first ever try and her team celebrated accordingly.
Mount Maunganui captain Chevarne Croucher said the most pleasing aspect of her team's performance was that they put into practice what they had worked on during the week.
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"I'm super proud of the girls, we worked really hard at training this week and we just applied what we had been training today. Just making decisions early and sticking to them. It got to the point in other games where we were making decisions too late and obviously it wasn't going to pay off for us."
Croucher said it was typical of Faneva to lead from the front.
"She's our beautiful Black Fern and we treasure her but we also learn a lot off her, she has a lot to bring to this team. She's such a great role model for all of us."
She said being part of a team new to the competition was "awesome", especially seeing players like Dickson score their first try.
"The girls are really stepping up each week. I'm just proud to be part of women's rugby and out there doing it."
Rotoiti coach Karen Vercoe said Mount Maunganui had "a really good game".
"They had a couple of damaging players that did really well. I think our girls did okay but just need a bit more time to understand the game.
"Our forwards, our scrumming, was really good this week, we got pushed backwards in our last game so they did really well. There's still lots to learn in our backline but that will all come together next year hopefully."
Baywide Women's Results
Rangataua 51 Whakarewarewa 10, Rotoiti 17 Mount Maunganui Sports 41, Waimana (won by default) vs Matata, Rangiuru - Bye.