At least one Southland school will be flying the flag for the South Island schools at the National Top Four rugby tournament at Palmerston North from 2-4 September.
Southland Girls’ High School comfortably defeated Motueka High School on Saturday to claim the South Island berth for the Top Four Girls tournament.
They could also be joined by Southland Boys’ High School, who play Crusaders region champion Christchurch Boys’ High School this Saturday.
Southland Girls claimed their fifth consecutive South Island title with a convincing 57-18 win over Tasman’s Motueka High School in neutral Oamaru.
Vice-captain Alena Saili scored a hat-trick of tries and Emma Hopcroft and Brooke Churstain two each in the nine tries to three win. Southland led 26-10 at halftime.
Motueka had qualified for the final after earlier beating Christchurch Girls High School 49-17 in the Crusaders region final.
Southland Girls coach Nathan Muir said the win over Motueka was good reward for his team.
"We’re really pleased with the way we played as a team,” he said. “We are trying to play an up-tempo game with our players making the right decisions for what the opposition is showing us. We were happy that we were able to achieve this for large parts of the game.
"Scoring first after halftime was important to us, we discussed as a team at halftime that if Motueka were first to score after halftime and their forwards got a roll on that they would get back in the game.
"We’re very proud of the girls, we have won the South Island title every year since its inception and every year we talk about meeting that expectation and so far every year the team has responded. We are really looking forward to heading back to Top Four again."
Last year Southland beat Hurricanes qualifier Feilding High School in their semi-final and lost to Chiefs team Hamilton Girls’ High School in the final. Ten players are returning to Southland’s team from last year.
Southland will play the Blues qualifier on the opening day of the Top Four tournament. This will be either North Harbour’s Kaipara College or Auckland’s Southern Cross Campus who meet on Saturday. Yesterday, Southern Cross defeated Otahuhu College 15-12 in the Auckland final.
Southland Girls High School 57 (Alena Saili 3, Emma Hopcroft 2, Brooke Churstain 2, Kendall Buckingham, Molly Wheeley tries; Lauren Christie 6 con) beat Motueka High School 18 (Tangiwai Koopu, Hannah Beech, Nike Schofer tries; Risaleanna Pouri-Lane pen)
The Southland Girls High School squad is:
Kendall Buckingham (c), Alena Saili (vc), Kayla Brocks, Rebecca Peseta, Simone Caughey, Kate Cochrane, Ariana Te-Whata, Jess Dermody, Libby Napier, Bree Thomas, Emma Dermody, Jaidene Marshall, Makenzie Bates, Sipa Saili, Millie Robert, Molly Wheeley, Alice Chamberlain, Amy du Plessis, Lauren Christie, Bridget Carleton, Emma Hopcroft, Siobhan Hazlett, Brooke Churstain, Devon Grey, Shakoia Tonihi