Southland Girls' show their class
Southland Girls' High School capped off a memorable season when finishing third at the Condor Sevens schools rugby tournament in Auckland.
The Invercargill school has had plenty to smile about on the field this season, claiming the South Island title in August when they thumped Christchurch Girls' High 66-12 in the final.
Southland Girls' also won the Highlanders regional final against St Hilda's Collegiate from Dunedin, 37-0.
In the inaugural national schoolgirls' rugby finals tournament in September, they placed third.
Southland Girls' made a strong start to the sevens tournament, beating Wainuiomata High School 25-7 and Epsom Girls' 22-0 in their opening two games. They were upset in their final group game against Kaitaia College 14-5, but were still able to top the pool, courtesy of their superior points differential.
Southland Girls' opted to give their reserve players a run against Kaitaia and may have been guilty of taking their opposition too lightly.
In the quarterfinals, Southland Girls' were drawn against Tamaki College, from Auckland. Southland Girls' set the tone early, scoring from the kickoff, and prevailed 20-0 over their opponents.
Southland Girls' were pitted against Mahurangi College, from Warkworth, in the semifinal. The two sides were evenly matched early with the scores locked at 12-12 late in the half.
Mahurangi scored a try just before halftime and then added another early in the second half to seize control of the game.
Mahurangi met their match in the final against Feilding High School, who ran out 27-12 victors.
Jacqui Chamberlain was a consistent performer for Southland Girls' in Auckland and was named in the tournament team.
Other standouts for Southland Girls' were Kate Day, who went close to the tournament team, and Alena Saili, who was always dangerous with ball in hand.
Players in the tournament team have an exciting opportunity in front of them. Three players from the side will be selected to train with the New Zealand women's sevens team.
With men's and women's sevens to be included in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, that is a massive incentive for young players to strive for over the next few years.
South Otago High opened the tournament with a 24-0 loss to Hamilton Girls', but bounced back to win their next two games against Rotorua Girls' 10-5 and Onehunga High 7-5.
That placed South Otago into the quarterfinal round, where they lost to eventual finalists Mahurangi 26-17. South Otago then lost their plate consolation against Tamaki College 22-0.
Southland Boys' let a 21-7 halftime lead slip against Scots College in their opening game of the boys' tournament to draw 21-21.
They found the going tough in their next outing against boys' runner-up Mount Albert Grammar, losing 40-0. Southland Boys' picked up their first win of the tournament in their final group game, beating Whangarei Boys' 17-12.
Those results placed Southland Boys' into the bowl competition, where they were outclassed by Wesley College 43-7 in their quarterfinal. They lost their final consolation round clash against Francis Douglas Memorial College 24-5. Kelston Boys' High beat Mount Albert Grammar 35-10 in the boys' final.
- The Southland Times