Craighead win by a penalty
It took total commitment from the Craighead First XV to retain their Aoraki Secondary School Rugby Championship crown against a determined Ashburton College side in a great battle at the Pleasant Point Domain.
Tied 10-all at halftime the difference between the sides was just a well struck penalty from substitute wing Anna Keelty.
Craighead had a few nervous moments at the end when Ashburton were awarded two penalties but they managed to repel the attacks and hold on to win 13-10.
Several girls played extremely well for Craighead but the stand-out was centre Rachel Rolleston with some great boot lace tackles against far bigger opponents.
The game started brightly for the visitors with No 8 Nicole Purdom going over after a strong run from big second five Alice Mareko.
With 10 minutes gone, Craighead were level after prop Lucy McKay was awarded a dubious try in the corner.
In a good day for the Craighead front rowers, Georgia Lysaght was next to score but Ashburton drew level again with a piece of individual brilliance from their captain and left wing Savanna Ornsby.
Ornsby got the ball 35 metres from the line and just used her speed to outflank the defenders to tie the game up.
After the break Craighead dominated possession and territory but couldn't get the ball down over the line.
McKay went close again but was held up by some tenacious Ashburton defence.
With 10 minutes left, Craighead's football convert Keelty nailed a 25m effort to snatch the entertaining encounter.
Craighead coach Barry Fairbrother was right when he said it was a shame one side had to lose.
For the victors, Mackay and No 8 Jess Sutherland were the standouts in the forwards.
There were several excellent performances in the back line from halfback Georgia Urquhart, who cleared the ball well to fullback Andrea Gregor, who was brave on defence.
First five Holly Chapman took a high shot but bounced back to control the game well, while second five Georgie Emerson and Rolleston combined well on attack and defence.
For Ashburton No 8 Purdom made several strong runs and was their stand-out forward, while lock Laura Harrison also impressed along with hooker Ari Settle.
In the backs Mareko was also hard to pull down, while the dangerous Ornsby was all class but well marked by Keelty in the second half, who got on to her quickly and cut down the space she had to operate in.
The competition continues to improve each year, with depowered scrums aside, the girls showed some excellent skills.
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