Wellington Pride 42 Hawkes Bay 10
A brace of tries to Kiri Mei has given the Wellington Pride a big win in their opening game of the Farah Palmer Cup. The former Onslow College and Wainuiomata representative was outstanding, proving disruptive at the breakdown and powerful on attack.
Coach Ross Bond was delighted with the performance of his blindside flanker among other players.
“I thought Kiri Mei was outstanding. I thought Acacia at 9 and Kauna at 10 played well, they provide an excellent link between our back and forwards. Jacks (former Black Fern Jackie Patea-Fereti) was great and I thought our engine-room performed well. Rosie Stirling was also very impressive, coming on as hooker”
Wellington were quickest off the mark, after converting an early penalty. Shortly after, Ories star winger Ayesha Leti-Liga powered her way through defenders and sprinted 40 metres to score.
The Pride continued to pile on the pressure, as they showed a real desire to attack from all parts of the field. Impressive interplay between Jackie Patea-Fereti and Sanita Levave, gave Mei the space to score. At 13-0, it was all Pride.
Hawkes Bay refused to give in and responded with a quick try, when they sliced open the midfield defence giving Shaylee Tipiwai the space to score. After converting a penalty, Hawkes Bay went into the break down 10-13. Bond felt his side had plenty to work on at halftime.
“I thought we took about 40 minutes to get into it. Hawkes Bay brought what we thought they’d bring, if they get broken play they are very good at this part of the game. I thought in the first-half we were pushing passes and not going into contact (enough)”
Just as Hawkes Bay threatened to take control after halftime, the Pride responded when Mei crashed over near the posts. Bond felt this was a key turning point in the game, as his side gained confidence and improved their structure.
Mei continued to prove a handful, when she broke through the heart of the opposition ruck defence to score her hat-trick. At 25-10, Hawkes Bay faced an uphill battle.
The floodgates began to open late in the game as the Pride took full advantage of a tired Hawkes Bay defence. Fullback Rejieli Uluinayau, who was a constant threat on attack, scored two late tries to seal the result.
The Pride’s final try came when reserve prop Raylene Lolo crashed over near the posts to cap off a great performance.
Bond was delighted with the impact of his bench players and the way they maintained structure late in the game.