Kiwi Ferns to the fore in Papanui's women's rugby league grand final triumph

Classy Kiwi Ferns centre Corinna Whiley bursts through for one of her two tries in Papanui's win over Linwood in the ...
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Classy Kiwi Ferns centre Corinna Whiley bursts through for one of her two tries in Papanui's win over Linwood in the Canterbury women's rugby league grand final.

Kiwi Ferns star Corinna Whiley grabbed a try scoring double as the Papanui Tigers clinched back-to-back Canterbury Rugby League women's premiership triumphs.

The Tigers celebrated a 34-20 win over the Linwood Keas in an entertaining grand final at Linfield Park on Sunday.

The Keas were gutsy in defeat, but the Tigers' edge in experience and class – led by Whiley and fellow Kiwi Fern Bunty Kuruwaka-Crowe – was telling in the eight-tries-to-four result.

Delighted Papanui Tigers players acknowledge their Linwood Keas rivals after winning the Canterbury women's rugby league ...
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Delighted Papanui Tigers players acknowledge their Linwood Keas rivals after winning the Canterbury women's rugby league grand final.

Strapping centre Whiley was a standout recipient of the player of the match award, using her pace and power to bag two tries and lay on another.

Elusive Tigers fullback Stacey Hildreth – a Ferns World Cup training squad member – also notched an eye-catching double.

The Tigers led 12-4 at halftime but a flying start to the second stanza put the match out of the Keas' reach.

Papanui Tigers fullback Stacey Hildreth goes over in the corner .k.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Papanui Tigers fullback Stacey Hildreth goes over in the corner .k.

"Personally I'm happy with how I went, but I'm also really proud of the team," Whiley said.

"Coming in as favourites really put a lot of pressure on the girls, and I think it showed in the first half but our experience came through in the second half, which got us that win."

The Keas repelled the Tigers' early attacking forays with some outstanding goal-line defence, but struggled to build any pressure with the ball themselves. The defending champs hit the scoreboard first midway through the first half when halfback Charntay Poko barged through from close range.

Papanui  defenders Vicki Logopati-Campbell and Kadison Robertson snuff out a Keas attack.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Papanui defenders Vicki Logopati-Campbell and Kadison Robertson snuff out a Keas attack.

The underdog Keas struck back, however, with five-eighth Cassie Siataga crashing over for the equaliser.

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Papanui landed two critical blows before halftime to power to a 12-4 lead, hooker Kadison Robertson zipping over from dummy-half before Whiley producing a searing 30-metre solo effort.

The Tigers pushed further clear soon after the break when Hildreth latched onto an inch-perfect cross-field kick from Poko to score a spectacular try.

Corinna Whiley on the charge again for the Tigers.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Corinna Whiley on the charge again for the Tigers.

The Keas pegged the deficit back to eight points through Easter Savelio's determined four-pointer, but Whiley set up diminutive winger Michelle Wang for a swift reply out wide and blazed over for her second to put the Tigers firmly in control at 24-8.

Keas supersub Savelio and quicksilver Tigers No.1 Hildreth each scored their second tries in quick succession, before Jerusha Whiley got on the scoresheet with a barnstorming run to extend the Tigers' advantage to 34-14.

The gutsy Keas had the last say, with another World Cup training squad member, Sui Pauaraisa, grabbing their fourth try.

At a glance

Papanui Tigers 34 (Corrina Whiley 2, Stacey Hildreth 2, Charntay Poko, Kadison Robertson, Michell Wang, Jerusha Whiley tries; Poko goal) defeated Linwood Keas 20 (Easter Savelio 2, Cassie Siataga, Sui Pauaraisa tries; Siataga 2 goals). HT: 12-4. Referee: Owen Harvey. Player of the match: Corinna Whiley (Papanui).

 

 - Stuff

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