Friday night’s KFC Curtain Raiser was a repeat of the 2015 Auckland girls XV final between Southern Cross and Otahuhu, with Southern Cross once again proving too strong, taking the win 17-10.
Initially, the game was in Otahuhu’s hands. Centre Fune Vainga scored eight minutes in to the game and the ball was steadily encroaching in to Southern Cross’ territory.
The 2015 girls 1st XV Auckland champs weren’t that easily subdued – Southern Cross’ Sarah Filimoeatu was impressive at second-five, setting up her side’s only try in the opening half by fending off three defenders and offloading just before the line.
By half-time, the score was 5-5 and both sides were determined to play in to the others’ territory.
Otahuhu’s left wing Ateliana Taufa made an impact straight after the break with a line-break from 30 metres out and a try in the 35th minute.
Southern Cross struggled to respond, until the impressive running game of Filimoeatu once again proved valuable. Scooping the ball up, 15 metres out from the line, she stormed through Otahuhu’s defence and touched down to even the score, 10-all at 42 minutes.
Filimoeatu would go on to score one more time, at the 53rd minute, which was then converted by first five Jaime Patuki to push Southern Cross further in to the lead, 17-10.
Ill-discipline was rife, notably from Southern Cross’ forward pack. At one point the side had three players in the sin bin: prop Lucy Teofilo Fidow, flanker Idlequinn Tapusoa and number eight Ofa Vave being sent off late in the second half, two for dangerous high tackles.
Head coach Rod Ratu put the errors and penalties down to fatigue.
“Technique goes out the door when they start getting a little tired,” said Ratu. “There wasn’t much time with the ball in the last 10 minutes they were just reacting rather than thinking.”
Otahuhu was unable to capitalise on the three-player advantage, even with dominant possession and camping out in Southern Cross’ territory for much of the final 15 minutes.
At the final whistle, with three players in the sin bin, Southern Cross celebrated a 17-10 victory over their rivals.