Southland Girls’ High School have won their maiden Girls rugby Top 4 championship title this afternoon at Arena Manawatu in Palmerston North, beating Wellington’s St Mary’s College 46-29 in the final.
Kaipara College won the playoff for third and fourth, defeating defending champions Hamilton Girls’ High School 10-7 in a low scoring thriller that could have gone either way.
Southland GHS raced to a 22-0 lead after as many minutes, sealing the match with a devastating four-try burst before St Mary’s had fired a shot.
Centre Alena Saili was the Player of the Final, scoring a hat-trick of tries and setting up another to openside flanker and captain Kendall Buckingham after making yet another break out wide and crossing the line herself but unselfishly passing to her skipper.
That was just about her last act of the match, leaving the field injured with most of the second half remaining, but at 36-7 up the final was in the bag.
St Mary’s, who lost their captain and influential centre Monica Tagoai to the sin-bin late in the first and playmaking first five-eighth Cheyenne Copeland to injury soon after, nevertheless rallied and crossed for four tries by the end.
But the day belonged to Saili and Southland who were fast out of the blocks and rattled the Wellington team early. They used width and pace early and went up 17-0. It got better soon after when Saili completed her hat-trick and the game was as good as won.
St Mary’s hit back with a try out wide, converted from the sideline. But Southland struck through again before the oranges to second five-eighth Amy Du Plessis, who was to score a second try later on along with flanker Buckingham who also had an excellent match.
Other players to stand out for Southland were lock Libby Napier, loosehead prop Kayla Brock and No. 8 Emma Dermody.
For St Mary’s, No. 8 Dhys Faleafafa was their best player on the day.
In the playoff for third and fourth, Kaipara College can thank a massive defensive effort that saw them home against Hamilton GHS.
It was Kaipara’s centre and captain, Rina Paraone, that proved to be an influential player for the winners, scoring a try and directing much of their attack in broken play where they looked most dangerous.
Kaipara opened the scoring early through right wing Georgia Logan to put them up 5-0 after as many minutes.
They maintained their early ascendancy, but Hamilton held on. Hamilton then struck late in the half with a converted try out wide to fullback Kiriana Nolan. But Kaipara scored a second try before halftime to Paraone, and they led 10-7 at the interval.
With light rain falling, the second half quickly turned into a battle of attrition, with both sides spending long periods in the others’ 22, but unable to break through to score.
Hamilton dominated the Kaipara scrum, that was fielding a player on debut at hooker and had been playing 10s rugby all year with uncontested scrums.
Hamilton first five-eighth Callister Wihone also missed with two penalty chances.
Look out for College Sport Media’s video highlights of the two finals coming up.
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