S Island title for gifted primary side

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:30 06/10/2012

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The future of Tasman rugby looks to be in safe hands after the performance of the Nelson Bays teams at the South Island Primary Schools Tournament this week, culminating in an unprecedented victory for the under-48kg team.

In the eight-year history of the South Island tournament no other Nelson Bays side has made it through to the top-tier shield section. In 2012 both the under-65kg and under-48kg teams played off for the shield, with the 65s finishing third overall.

At the Lincoln Rugby Football Club, the under-48s started off with a 19-12 win over Southland on Sunday followed by the "big rematch" with Canterbury Metro on Monday. After Canterbury were beaten 35-0 in the regional tournament last month they brought a more physical style, but Nelson withstood the pressure to take a 22-8 victory.

The third and final game against Otago on Tuesday was a virtual final in the shield competition, with both teams previously unbeaten. Nelson not only held their nerve, they played champagne rugby, scoring a four-try bonus point in a 39-13 triumph.

Seven of the Nelson Bays squad were named in the tournament team: Joshua McPherson, Nic Clark, Caleb Coventry, Mathew Stevenson, Tane MacDonald, Jamie Thompson and Ben Hazlett.

The under-65 team also made history by qualifying for the top tier. Early losses to Otago and Canterbury Country were soon forgotten in a memorable win over Southland to take third place. Arahi Raumati and Riley Bensemann were named in the tournament team.

Tasman Rugby Union development officer Kahu Marfell said it was a tournament of high achievements.

"This was the first time that any Nelson Bays team had played in the shield section of the South Island tournament and I am very proud of the way both teams represented Nelson Bays and Tasman. The future is looking good for Tasman rugby and I am looking forward to seeing to some of these players progressing to be future Makos."

Champion under-48kg team: Joshua McPherson, Graham Urquhart, Angus Stuart, Kohu Whalon, Ryan Churchill, Maxwell Nalder, Nic Clark, Caleb Coventry, Mathew Grimes, Neo Milligan-Richards, Nash Biggs, Levi Pohutuhutu, Keegan Thomas, Jamie Davis, Taine Robinson, Joe Sharland, Mathew Stevenson, Justin Barr, Ethan Cooper, Liam Finlayson, Tane MacDonald, Jamie Thompson, Ben Hazlett.

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- The Nelson Mail

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