3 Oct 2016

Counties claim maiden women's title

7:32 am on 3 October 2016

Counties Manukau have made women's provincial rugby history, winning their first ever national title and the Farah Palmer Cup, ending a great era of dominance by Auckland.

Counties Manukau captain Arihiana Marino holds the Farah Palmer Cup after win over Auckland

Counties Manukau captain Arihiana Marino holds the Farah Palmer Cup Photo: Photosport

Counties Manukau beat Auckland 41-22 in Pukekohe.

The hosts completed the perfect season with nine wins from nine games.

Their elevation to national champions ends a remarkable era for Auckland who have been NPC champions every year since 1999 except in 2006 (won by Wellington).

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Neil Sorensen congratulated Counties Manukau on their historic win.

"I am so excited for both teams who were today's Final. For Auckland - they have worked hard every year to retain their right to contest the Final. But I am just delighted that Counties Manukau will take home the silverware, and claim the first Farah Palmer Cup title and their first national championship," he said.

"I also want to acknowledge all nine provinces that competed this year. Every year this competition grows and matures, and the players rightly deserve to be recognised for their skill, commitment, and passion for women's rugby.

"I know that these teams have provided Black Ferns selectors with a few headaches as they narrow their selections for the Black Ferns 2016 squad for their domestic Test season and end of year tour to the UK."

Former Black Ferns captain and competition namesake Dr Farah Palmer was on hand in Auckland to present the Cup - which now bears her name - to Counties Manukau skipper Arihiana Marino.

"It is so exciting to see so many women playing their hearts out in this competition which is where my own love for rugby began. Congratulations to both teams in today's Final - but a special congratulations to Counties Manukau on being crowned 2016 champions," Palmer said.