Southland Girls' High third best in country
Southland Girls' High finished off the inaugural national schoolgirls rugby finals tournament in style yesterday, winning their third-fourth playoff game in Palmerston North.
Southland Girls' beat James Cook High from Manurewa 26-15, after leading 14-10 at halftime, to finish as the third best schoolgirls team in the country.
The Invercargill school overcame the loss of captain and openside flanker Molly Lyders to a dislocated elbow, early in the second half, to capture the win.
No 8 Georgia Mason, centre Jacqui Chamberlain and winger Alena Saili scored Southland Girls' tries. They were also awarded a penalty try after lock Ellie Barron was held back when she was going to gather the ball close to the tryline. Halfback Ella Shields kicked well again for Southland Girls', landing three conversions.
Played in awful weather conditions, Southland Girls' win was built around their forward pack, who outplayed their opponents up front.
Southland Girls' coach Nathan Muir said Barron had a mighty game at lock, while prop Kate Brown was mobile around the field and got through a lot of work.
"The forwards worked really hard. That's the reason why we won," Muir said. "Their whole team was much bigger than us. The conditions played into their hands. Our forwards had to muscle up."
Southland Girls' advanced to the top four schoolgirls tournament after routing Christchurch Girls' High 66-12 in the South Island final, two weeks ago. They won the Highlanders regional title, after beating St Hilda's Collegiate, from Dunedin, 37-nil in the final.
Muir said it had been an outstanding season for the team and that they had exceeded all of their expectations. "If you'd said to me we'd be third in the country at the start of the year, I would have sent you off to the asylum to get your head read," he laughed.
Southland Girls' lost their only other game at the tournament on Friday to the Hurricanes region champions and eventual winners, Feilding High School, 48-nil. Feilding High beat Auckland Girls' Grammar 22-5 in the final yesterday.
The bad news for Southland Girls' opponents is that the majority of the squad will be back at school again next year. Two of their star players, Saili and Mason, are only Year 9 and 10 respectively this year.
- © Fairfax NZ News