Sunday, September 17, 2017
The once dormant Volcanix have erupted in 2017 and sit atop the Farah Palmer Cup Championship division after three games.
The Bay of Plenty women's side added North Harbour to their list of conquests yesterday in a comfortable 34-12 bonus point win at Rotorua International Stadium.
Prop Luka Connor and winger Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly, who play club rugby for Waikite, did not disappoint their home crowd as they scored two tries apiece.
It was Connor who opened the scoring for Bay of Plenty in the opening minutes. They got the ball back from the kickoff and kept it in hand as they worked their way into the North Harbour 22.
Connor has proven all season for Waikite that she is an unstoppable force close to the try line and it was more of the same as she bulldozed her way over for the opener.
Minutes later the Volcanix extended their lead to 10-0 as once again they kept the ball in hand for several phases in attack, before this time spreading it wide. Stephens-Daly received the ball on the left wing and skipped past her defender to score in the corner.
After 15 minutes North Harbour began to find their feet and were rewarded when winger Caitlyn Cox scored in the right-hand corner, thanks to an offload that Sonny Bill would be proud of from fullback Briar McNamara.
At 10-5 down North Harbour were seeing more of the ball but the Volcanix defensive line was resolute and forced turnovers at crucial moments to hold onto the lead.
After absorbing the pressure Bay of Plenty went back on the attack and once again it was Connor who barged her way over the try line, in the left-hand corner this time, to make it 15-5.
Keeping the ball in hand and using their powerful forwards to go up the middle was working for the Volcanix and right on halftime they had another try through prop Ereti Williams from close range. The try was converted and they took a handy 22-5 lead into the break.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half as both teams made more errors than they would have liked. While they looked comfortable throughout, Bay of Plenty had several lapses in concentration that they may worry will be punished against tougher opposition.
They did, however, add to their lead 20 minutes into the half and it was Stephens-Daly who crossed for her second try.
The Volcanix extended their lead to 34-5 minutes later, thanks to a brilliant piece of individual play from fullback Crystal Mayes. She fielded a kick near halfway and in the blink of an eye produced a brilliant piece of footwork to slice through a gap and go in untouched under the posts.
North Harbour scored a consolation try in the dying minutes as first five Claudia McMeekin put a chip in over the defensive line and re gathered to score under the posts. She converted to make the final score 34-12.
Speaking after the game Connor was modest about her try-scoring feats, saying she was simply in the right place at the right time.
"Everyone's doing the work, I definitely enjoy it but it's a team effort.
"I think we are really happy with how we played, we pretty much did everything we practised. We brought that onto the field, we just said if we do our work the result will come," Connor said.
She said the team's structure and systems were becoming more natural with each game.
"Everyone is starting to learn how each other plays. Throughout the club season you don't play with each other so we are still learning but today it came together.
"We're still trying to build and get more consistency, hopefully next week we can step it up again," she said.