The action from the New Zealand U18s girl’s tournament finals kicked off on Thursday morning at Owen Delaney Park in Taupo between the Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays.
Counties Manukau drew first blood as their forwards dominated the middles with barnstorming runs to crash over the line to get four points. The Stingrays continued their form as their backs shifted the ball out to the edge for Counties to make a line break that resulted in a 50-metre runaway try.
Down on the scoreboard a determined Akarana side started to build momentum with great defence and a bit of luck to score the first points of the half. Following on from their first try, Akarana wasted no time to score their next to close out the half and even the scores at 10-10 a piece.
Counties started off the second half strong as they dominated the early part of the second half. The backs capitalised off the back of the Stingray forwards hard work, as they drew first blood in the second half to make it 14-10.
However costly errors and a sin bin from Counties allowed Akarana to creep back into the game. A late push from the Falcons saw the Akarana team crash over the line and even the score 14 all. A spirited Counties Manukau team were quickly working up the field however scrambling defence saw the Falcons shut down any attacking threat that the Stingrays had. A late penalty with two minutes to go in front of the Counties Manukau posts saw the Falcons kick a 2-point penalty to close out the game 16-14, with the Falcons being the 2022 U18 girls National Youth champions.