By Tiatia Taofia Bryce | 7 May 2017
Two things stood out in the aftermath of Marist St Pat’s women winning the Wellington Premier Division-2 title on Saturday.
They expected to win big against their last opponent in their final game – and they did.
They also expected Paremata-Plimmerton to be competitive, and they were– for the first 15-minutes anyway.
The Evans Bay scoreboard couldn’t be more emphatic in highlighting MSP Women’s dominant display in their 67-5 victory. A win that leaves them the only unbeaten team in the Premier Division-2 first round; as well as recording their highest score of the competition, topping the 45 points scored against Tawa last week.
But what the scoreboard didn’t tell is the drama of the first 15 minutes. It was a tough, hard arm-wrestle to break down their opponents. It ended when Monica Tagoa’i scored the first of what would end up as an 11-try fest.
But the action packed opening stanza had MSP captain Tina Va’aua-Hamlin paying tribute to their opponent.
“They are a young team with a lot of potential and they showed that in the first 15-minutes. They were tough and never really let up,” Va’aua-Hamlin said.
“But big ups to our players for sticking to our systems on attack and defense for the full 80-minutes. We wanted to keep the scoreboard ticking so we remained focused even though we had a number of key positional changes due to injury, it was really good to see how we adapted in those situations and maintain our composure and momentum. There was always support every time someone made a break which topped off some amazing tries.
Pictured: Matauaina Fagalilo, Tina Va'aua-Hamlin (back), Jane-Edna Bryce, Georgia Broughton
She praised the hard working forward pack “who made a lot of effective tackles on defence and fully deserved the tries they got. While the backs stuck to our goal of ‘stay alive’ and ‘Be alert’.The girls really did the club proud.”
The first 15-minutes saw two evenly matched teams giving the crowd an exciting dose of rugby entertainment. However, that phase came to an emphatic end once Monica crossed the line for their first try. It opened the flood gates.And credit to MSP, they kept it open for the rest of the game.
‘Player of the Day’, hard tackling blindside flanker, Sinead Toala-Ryder was massive. Her defensive work and muscular presence in the contact area created many of the go forward ball and chaos. And with the industrious pack gelling well, the backs got a wealth of ball which captain and half-back Tina Va’aua-Hamlin and first-five Jane-Edna Bryce combined well to set their backline alight.
Monica at second-five got plenty of opportunities and she didn’t disappoint. She showed skill and pace to turn the wealth of possession into a try fest. She grabbed a further two tries to score one of MSP’s two hat-tricks of the match.
Jane-Edna Bryce, still only 17 years old, continued her rich vein of form show casing power, speed and potential for higher honours. Her combination with Va’aua-Hamlin until the skipper was forced off with injury was one of the success factors for MSP.
Monica and Jane-Edna were two players singled out by captain Va’aua-Hamlin who called them “a lethal combination”.
Jane-Edna, who ended the game at half-back when skipper Va’aua-Hamlin left the field, nabbed the second MSP hat-trick of the match. And with six successful conversions,Bryce ended the first round competition on top of MSP’s try (6) and points-scorer (64) table.
Even though Paremata-Plimmerton were well beaten, they left their mark on the game by never giving up and their never-say-die attitude was rewarded with a great team try near the end.
Both teams should be commended for the fair play andpositive spirit they brought to the game.
However, the win re-inforced MSP’s position as the top team in Division 2, and the increasing margins of their victories highlighted the gap between them and their Division 2 opponents.
There is hope from the MSP camp that their performances will bring with it a positive answer to their request for Division 1 promotion. Captain Va’aua-Hamlin is fairly confident of a positive outcome.
“In terms of moving forward, us girls plan to continue to bring the heat at trainings and lifting the intensity. The culture in our team is what’s keeping us tight and grounded. If we end up in Division-1 we know that none of the top teams are going to take us lightly so preparing ourselves for the hard games is going to be a challenge. But we have faith in ourselves and we know our club and our supporters will be backing us all the way.”
Co-manager, Mrs Agnes Va’aua-Hamlin is hoping for good news about a Division-1 promotion.
“We have put our request to play in Division-1 through the formal channels. We’re just waiting to hear back from the union, but our players, coaches and management are really looking forward for an opportunity to test ourselves against the best in Division 1.
“We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Board and the Club President who were there cheering the team on and backing them to win. Thanks to the parents, families and friends for relentless support and huge credit to Jeanette Rose for the amazing photos.
“In our Strategic Plan, our goal is to become the best Women’s Team in Wellington, to be known for innovation, commitment and team culture. So we’ve topped Division 2, and to achieve our goals we need to go up to the next level.
“So yeah, we’re excited, we have a clear picture of our journey, we know where we’re at and we just want to keep on taking those steps to reach our destination.”
Coach Fa’atonu Fili applauded his young charges after the victory. And he is putting his full support and faith behind the team’s aspirations to move up to Division-1.
“I think we got better each game and have been improving every week, and even though it will be a big step for our young team,they are confident in themselves to give it a good crack.
“I mean, if no one is giving us a chance then what better platform to shock a few teams and create our own legacy.
“If we don’t make it first time, then we will learn from the experience, and make us a better team for our next try, and our next try after that because we will not give up. Our girls have goals and they are in it for the long haul.
“What does that mean for us as coaches? It means we back our girls and it doesn't matter what the outside people say.”
MSP 67 – Tries: MonicaTagoa’i 3, Jane-Edna Bryce 3, Matauaina Fagalilo, Sela Vaka, Molly Maligi-Leota, Jane Feiti, Luseane Meafo’ou. Conversions: Jane-Edna Bryce 6.
Paremata-Plimmerton 5. HT: 31-0 FT: 67-5