Auckland Storm have won the women's NPC rugby title for the 13th time after they beat Wellington Pride 34-8 at Waikato Stadium tonight.
The Storm forwards, particularly their dominant scrum, proved too strong and their hard running backs did the rest of the damage, scoring five tries to one to mark the return of the women's championship after a one-year absence.
Despite Wellington leading the possession and territory stats at halftime, Auckland led 17-8 at the break, scoring three tries to one, Wellington's not coming until after the halftime hooter when left winger Ruby Finau dived over in the corner and got the nod from the TMO.
Earlier first-five and captain Rebecca Mahoney had got Wellington onto the board first with a penalty goal but tries in the sixth, 23rd and 31st minutes by No8 Justine Lavea, right winger Victoria Grant and left winger Renee Wickliffe had given the Storm a commanding lead, although the Pride did come back strongly in the latter stages.
Wellington opened the second half in the same manner, attacking strongly but Wickliffe snatched an intercept off a wide pass from Wellington No8 Emma Aldworth on the Auckland 22 and raced more than 75 metres to score the try that proved a dagger to the Pride's winning hopes.
With Black Ferns halfback Emma Jensen adding the conversion and then eight minutes later converting her own try from an attacking scrum in the right corner, the match was all over as a contest. Jensen added a further penalty goal in the 24th minute of the second spell but that was the end of the scoring as both teams rung the changes.
Auckland Storm 34 (Renee Wickliffe 2, Justine Lavea, Victoria Grant, Emma Jensen tries; Jensen 3 conversions, penalty goal) Wellington Pride 8 (Ruby Finau try; Rebecca Mahoney penalty goal). HT: 17-8.
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