Rovers and United ensure an all-Auckland final in this year’s Kate Sheppard Cup

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It’s going to be a Queen City final as Northern Rovers and Auckland United both won their semi-finals in the Kate Sheppard Cup.

Northern Rovers needed a penalty shoot-out to stave off Dunedin City Royals, after the two regional champions were tied 2-2 after extra time at McFetridge Park.

Auckland United stormed into next month’s final, led by striker Martine Puketapu who scored four goals in her side’s 5-2 win against Palmerston North Marist.

Main photo: Martine Puketapu … has scored more than 100 league and cup goals for Auckland United and its founding club Three Kings United. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Rovers and United will meet in the cup final, tentatively set for the weekend of September 10-11.

Here’s how the semi-finals unfolded:

Rovers keep their nerve to win penalty shoot-out

Northern Rovers reached the Kate Sheppard Cup final after successfully scoring all five spot kicks in the penalty shoot-out required to separate them from Dunedin City Royals, after a thrilling 2-2 draw at McFetridge Park.

The teams battled through extra time before Rovers won the shoot-out 5-3 in front of their home supporters.

It was a harsh way to end a semi-final that saw both teams show why they are each the best in their regions.

Two of the best teams in the country prepare for their semi-final.

Rovers had taken the lead first in the game when Leanna Ryan fired in a shot from the left of the goal after 12 minutes.

That was the only goal of the half and in the second spell, the Royals had the benefit of a following breeze.

Ten minutes into the half, they levelled through Shontelle Smith.

Rovers’ goalkeeper Ellen Blount kept her side in the game with two good saves, the second only five minutes from the end of normal time.

Referee Chris Trent ordered extra time.

In the 99th minute, Rovers’ Michaela Foster crossed and substitute Kate McConnell got her head to the ball, steering it into the net.

But six minutes later, the Royals tied up the game again when a free-kick in the box was headed home by Hannah Mackay-Wright.

The tired players regrouped for the penalty shoot-out.

With all five spot kicks in the net, Northern Rovers have preserved their season-long unbeaten record and can now try to add the cup to their Northern League title.

Puketapu blasts four past Marist for finals spot

Former Football Fern Martine Puketapu bagged four goals in a copybook front-running performance to lead Auckland United to next month’s cup final with a 5-2 win against Palmerston North Marist.

The 24-year-old was clinical in her finishing as she took control of the game in the second half, using her experience to lead United’s young team to victory.

She opened the scoring after half an hour when Isabella Richards dashed down the right flank and crossed for Puketapu to lash the ball into the net.

In the 39th minute, Bree Johnston doubled United’s lead when a mix-up by the Marist defence let her nip in to steal the ball and slip it past the ‘keeper.

After turning around with United 2-0 in front, Marist knew they had to push their luck and they pulled back a goal when 17-year-old Holly Kleinsman prodded home a viciously inswinging corner.

A minute later, Puketapu regained United’s two-goal margin when she was left unmarked at a corner and was able to score from close range.

Ten minutes later, Puketapu completed her hat-trick with her best goal of the day. She received a through ball just outside the area, turned and steered the ball into the corner of the net.

She added her fourth when she broke clear of two defenders and struck an angled shot past the advancing ‘keeper.

Marist pulled back a late goal when Kleinsman again cashed in on a corner that United failed to deal with.

Puketapu’s game ended with an injury in stoppage time that took several minutes of treatment and led to her hobbling off the pitch.

Watch again

Watch a full replay of the Auckland United – PN Marist game here:

Results

Games played on Saturday August 20, 2022

Auckland United 5 (Martine Puketapu 31′, 56′, 66′, 79′, Bree Johnson 39′)
Palmerston North Marist 2 (Holly Kleinsman 55′, 83′)

Northern Rovers 2 (Leanna Ryan 12′, Kate McConnell 99′)
Dunedin City Royals 2 (Shontelle Smith 55′, Hannah Mackay-Wright 105+1′)

The Kate Sheppard Cup is supported by the NZ Football Foundation.

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