With the traditional ‘north versus south’ fixture of Canterbury v Auckland scheduled in the final of the 2019 Farah Palmer Cup, women’s rugby will hold the attention this weekend.
With the two tiers, the Premiership cup final is scheduled to be played on Saturday, October 26 in Christchurch’s Rugby Park. The Auckland Storm will need to ‘bring it’ if they wish to deny the hosts another title.
Winners in 2017 and 2018, the women’s provincial team will wish to emulate the achievements of their region’s Super Rugby team. A three-peat would be a credit to the side but, it is not without a challenger. And Auckland is a team used to holding up the Cup.
Who's taking the cup home? 👇🏼
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) October 23, 2019
On the other side of the draw, the Championship cup final is between Otago v Hawke’s Bay, and that is being held at Forsyth-Barr Stadium, in Dunedin on Sunday. The South Island could ‘hold all the gold’ unless the North Island sides can turn things around.
Canterbury v Auckland final in 2019 Farah Palmer Cup
Canterbury is coached by Kieran Kite, and his group has gone unbeaten so far, with a huge advantage in both points scored for and in defence. Those two factors are going to need to be broken if the visitors stand any chance. Finding a pattern that is still the Storm’s own but, with a knowledge that this Canterbury side need to be disassembled in a planned attack, it will need their best game all year to take it.
Auckland’s coach is Richie Walkes, ably assisted by Anna Richards. The former Black Ferns skipper will aim to offer her voice of experience, to the gameplan set by Walkes. The group has been in commanding form – only losing once, which was to Canterbury by 12-45 at Eden Park.
The plan will call for both upfront defence, as well as countering the illusive Kendra Cocksedge at halfback. Keep her focused on defence, rather than allowing her to snipe around the ruck; which is a tough job for any rugby player [female or male]. Then your focus might need to be on Grace Brooker. The tall back is a handful; proven by the below video from the Eden Park match.
💪 Grace Brooker knows how to gain some ground!
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) September 8, 2019
Although, considering each team, Auckland too has players that the hosts will need to focus on. Ruahei Demant and her sister Kiritapu. They are continuing the trend in rugby of siblings having influential roles in teams. The Storm are driven by the Demant style, with the Itunu sisters in the forwards bringing their established Black Ferns roles into the provincial team. The combinations are both natural and well-practiced.
Some might believe the Auckland forwards may be more of a factor than the backs, and if they can get parity or dominate in and around the ruck, it could bring rewards for the outside backs.
THAT FINALS WEEK FEELING 🙌🏼
⛈ The Storm will contest 2019 Farah Palmer Cup Final against @crfu in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon.
📍 Rugby Park, Christchurch
— Auckland Rugby (@AucklandRugby) October 20, 2019
Canterbury still to correct Auckland’s NPC record
Even with back-to-back titles, the record still reads ‘played: 26, 2001-19. Canterbury wins: 3, Auckland wins: 23. And in terms of titles, Auckland holds 15. A massive disproportion to any other women’s national provincial championship sides [anywhere in the World]. Yet with any Canterbury v Auckland clash, the history adds to the drama.
The support of the locals will be a valuable asset. Several thousand are expected to make their way to Rugby Park. the home to the Crusaders. Red and black will be the colours of choice, and with the end of winter in sight, it is the last big game in the City before the summer and Christmas. A last gasp for footy you might say, as up in Japan the All Blacks continue to strive for their own elite ‘Championship’.
Meanwhile, up the highway in Nelson, the Tasman Mako host the men’s Premiership final. If that result goes the way of the women’s final, the Crusaders region will be celebrating all weekend.
Not that the Auckland women, nor the Wellington Lions men’s team, won’t be unhappy if they each were to spoil the party.
SkySports will show both matches live, with a full focus on the women’s game; which is booming. The popularity should see even more young females embracing the game, as the Farah Palmer Cup continues to show the best of the sport in New Zealand.
Note: this is also the weekend for Heartland Championship finals. Divisions three and four will play for the Meads Cup, and with all due respect, the Lochore Cup for 2019.
Farah Palmer Cup 2019 finals: Canterbury v Auckland (Premiership) Saturday October 26 | Otago v Hawke’s Bay (Championship) Sunday, Oct 27
Mitre 10 Cup 2019 finals: Tasman Mako v Wellington (Premiership) Sat Oct 26 | Bay of Plenty v Hawke’s Bay (Championship) Friday Oct 25
Heartland Championship 2019 finals: North Otago v Wanganui (Meads Cup) Sat Oct 26 | West Coast v South Canterbury (Lochore Cup) Sun Oct 27
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images