Double delight for Feilding
Back-to-back wins for Feilding High SchoolPETER LAMPP
Only twice has the New Zealand Rugby Union put the Hine Pounamu Trophy up for grabs and Feilding High School's women's team have won it both times, back-to-back.
They emulated last year's feat when they beat Southland Girls' High School 29-12 in the national final at a windswept FMG Stadium yesterday.
Feilding had the job done by halftime when they led 29-5 to deliver the Southland girls their sole loss of the year. Feilding quickly led 29-0, similar to the 30-0 lead they had over Hamilton Girls' High School in the semifinal on Friday before winning 30-19.
Southland had the impudence to come back with a try two minutes before the break and another into the wind eight minutes after halftime.
Both teams were jubilant afterwards and Feilding repeated their haka after the final, the one they performed before Southland at the start.
Coach Rob Jones has been with the team since 2006 and gets a great kick out of seeing the players progress. "I love it. As a coach you enjoy working with the team," he said.
Many were predicting 2014 would present new challenges because nine players are leaving school.
"We lost nine last year," Jones said. But leaving will be two of his big guns, first-five Hayley Hutana and No 8 Amy Cokayne.
"We're working on bringing new players through."
Jones has a core of seven girls he can build another team around.
For instance, two 15-year-olds, fullback Makenzie Nuku and wing and track athlete Lauren Balsillie, scored two tries each yesterday by outflanking Southland with sheer speed. Both will be back next year.
The Feilding renaissance began in 2003 under Peter Townsend, father of future New Zealand Sevens wing Mallory.
"A teacher came into the school who had played a bit of rugby."
The late Rick Francis quickly got her involved. "And now she's my wife [Rowena]," Jones said.
Ian Cokayne has been the assistant coach, but the air force squadron leader is returning to England in December and sadly for Manawatu, daughter Amy is going with him, possibly to renowned sports university, Loughborough.
In her time with Feilding's first XV, 17-year-old Amy Cokayne could remember just the one loss in her five years, earlier this season to Hamilton Girls', and yesterday she was huge again.
"Last year's win was amazing but to do it back-to-back was huge. Being captain makes it even sweeter," she said.
She leaves New Zealand after a major grounding in rugby but said nothing beats the pride of playing for her country, which is England.
Yesterday, Southland had an honest forward pack but lacked the speed and evasiveness of Feilding in the backs. Their best was lithe prop Laura Buckingham, who ghosted through for her try, and big first-five Aleni Saili couldn't be stopped close to the line.
The wind made it a poor spectacle, with an avalanche of penalties dished out.
Eleven of the Feilding girls play club rugby for Feilding Old Boys-Oroua, and Hutana, Cokayne and halfback Dannielle Chaplin for the Manawatu Cyclones. Their other heroines yesterday were prop Sarah Fairless, who will play NPC for Taranaki, and second-five Georgia Marshall. Hamilton Girls' High School won the playoff for third place, beating Tamaki College 20-12.
Feilding HS 29 (Makenzie Nuku 2, Lauren Basillie 2, Amy Cokayne, tries; Hayley Hutana 2 con) Southland GHS 12 (Laura Buckingham, Aleni Saili, tries; Jacqui Chamberlain con) HT 29-5.
- © Fairfax NZ News