The flagship women’s Hawke’s Bay Tuis future looks promising if the recent performance of Hastings Girls’ High School is anything to go by.
HGHS first XV have returned from the Youthtown Condor National Secondary Schools’ Sevens, bowing out in the semifinals of their maiden outing in what is considered the pinnacle of teenage competition.
“They had exceeded expectations and collected valuable experience along the way,” says coach Thomas Te Pou after last week’s two-day accomplishments.
They lacked experience but were eager to do their whanau and province proud, says Te Pou of the schoolgirls who stayed at Te Tira Hou Marae in Panmure to prepare for the tourney.
They played three matches, culminating with the final game against last year’s under-15 girls’ champions, Kerikeri (Northland).
Stung first up in a Tauranga tourney earlier, the Bay girls didn’t allow their first match become their undoing. They beat
Inglewood (Taranaki) 20-7 with Lillie Spencer excelling in rucking with numerous turnovers.
After a two-hour break, the HGHS overwhelmed Takapuna (Auckland) 30-0 in a game where newbie Raedeen Blake exhibited vision and smart option-taking.
Kerikeri proved to be an arm wrestle but HGHS captain Te Aira Te Pou’s power running spearhead a 15-5 victory for a top-eight finish.
HGHS reloaded against Kerikeri, the second-best qualifiers, but captain Te Pou was out because she had to sit the NCEA-level Ma¯ori exam.
Unfazed, the HGHS dispatched the defending champions again, 15-12, with Rahera Heke assuming the mantle of captaincy.
It wasn’t a pretty game with numerous turnovers but Kerikeri drew first blood although HGHS replied with two tries owing mainly to Phoenicia Te Rito’s fancy footwork. Kerikeri came back with a converted try to lead 12-10.
However, coach Te Pou went to his trusty bench to strike from the the blind side for the winning try and HGHS’ maiden Condors quarter-final bragging rights.
But their run came to an abrupt halt in the semifinals, even with the return of their captain, when a structured, fast and fit Lytton High (Gisborne) crushed them, 44-5.
Thomas Te Pou thanked co- coach and former Black Fern Emma Jensen, the whanau and fans who travelled to Auckland to watch the “Future Ferns”.
“Lets hope these girls continue playing well and move to wearing the Black and White of the Hawke’s Bay Tui’s in the near future,” he says.
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