It’s a long season ahead, but the Kaipara College’s girls’ rugby side has already bagged one title win for 2017, winning the annual secondary school Blues 10s Invitational Tournament in the weekend.
Last year’s National Championship Top Four XVs rugby girls semi-finalists, Kaipara College won the one-day tournament on North Harbour’s QBE Stadium.
There were seven girls teams at the tournament, representing North Harbour, Auckland and Counties-Manukau, divided in to two pools of three and four each. Games were 10 minutes each way. Kaipara played two Pool A games against the other North Harbour team, Long Bay College, and against Auckland’s Otahuhu College.
On the other side of the draw, Aorere College topped Pool B, which also included Southern Cross Campus, Green Bay College and Tuakau College.
“We beat Otahuhu 20-0 in our first game and Long Bay College 41-7 and then we beat Aorere College 31-7 in the final, so it was a good day for us,” said Kaipara College coach Callum Finlay.
Malia Hemehema scored a hat-trick in the final against Aorere, while her sister Jazelle Hemehema and Anna Steele scored tries in the five tries to one win.
Last year Kaipara College beat Hamilton Girls’ College 10-7 to finish third at the XVs Top Four finals in Palmerston North, while their 7s team won the Bowl final at last year’s Condor 7s finals in Auckland.
Coach Finlay said that Kaipara had three new players making their debuts for the team on Saturday, off-setting the loss of five players from last year’s team.
Leading player Rina Paraone is one of last year’s Year 13s who has left school. “Rina is now down at Waikato University, but her younger sister Merania was playing and was very good around the field, setting up two of the tries in the final. Maddy Wells, who plays lock/flanker in XVs, has returned as captain.
“We have a leadership group of four of the senior players, but there’s a good atmosphere in our squad where they all look out for each other and give each other advice. Everyone does their job and it seems to work for us.”
Finlay said it’s the start of a busy season. “We have got the North Island Secondary Schools Sevens in Rotorua coming up this weekend, we are going to have a crack at that and see how we go. Then it will be the 10s season in North Harbour as normal and we will look to use that as a platform to challenge for the Blues region title and go to the Top Four finals again.”
Like most other girls rugby teams, members of the team are also involved in other sports. “Jamie Allen is a Waka Ama paddler so she is at their nationals this week and will then come and join us in Rotorua, while we have a number of Premier 1 netball players. Some have chosen just to do rugby this year after the success of last year.”
Meanwhile, the 12-team boys Blues 10 tournament on Saturday was won by National XVs champions Mount Albert Grammar School for the third year in a row. MAGS beat De La Salle College 13-5 in their final. Noah Foster was named Player of the Tournament.
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