A for­get­table week­end in Cam­bridge

The Northland Age - - Sport -

The North­land men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams re­turned thor­oughly for­get­table cam­paigns at the North­ern Re­gion qual­i­fiers in Cam­bridge last Satur­day with nei­ther side win­ning a sin­gle game.

With the bad news out of the way, the good news is that the North­land Tani­wha men still man­aged to qual­ify for the 2018 Tect Na­tional Rugby Sevens tour­na­ment in Tau­ranga on De­cem­ber 15 and 16.

North­land fin­ished bot­tom in 6th place in the men’s pool with losses to Waikato (31-7, and who also even­tu­ally fin­ished 2nd over­all), Auck­land (15-12, 4th), Bay of Plenty (36-14, 3rd), North Har­bour (24-12, 5th) and even­tual cham­pi­ons, Coun­ties Manukau (29-0, 1st).

A blurb on the North­land Rugby web­site be­fore the tour­na­ment last week noted coaches Denny Windle­born and Bram Egli were tak­ing “a young and ex­cit­ing” team to Cam­bridge how­ever Windle­born af­ter­wards won­dered if that had counted against the side.

“[We were just] Too in­ex­pe­ri­enced,” he said of Satur­day’s col­lec­tive per­for­mances.

Thank­fully, it counted for nought as all six teams in the North­ern Re­gion were given the pass through to the nats, rather than the top five as ini­tially feared.

Play­ing Cam­bridge for North­land in

were, Ao­rangi Stokes (cap­tain), Mase Par­sons, Jarod Byrnes, Sean Rawiri Win­del­born, Dar­ryl Smith, Po­to­laka Maake, Dane Subritzky, Brady Rush, Keepa Wiki, Nikau Gra­ham and Levi Clark.

With a num­ber of play­ers limp­ing away from Satur­day’s tour­na­ment in­jured, Win­del­born will con­firm his fi­nal se­lec­tion for the na­tion­als to­day.

North­land is to fea­ture at the cham­pi­onships in a pool with Welling­ton, South­land and Tas­man.

■ North­land also en­tered a team in the women’s di­vi­sion at the qual­i­fiers and they fared just as badly; also fin­ish­ing bot­tom, 6th on the fi­nal stand­ings.

The side suf­fered losses to North Har­bour 17-0 (who fin­ished 5th), Waikato 20-5 (2nd), Auck­land 43-0 (1st), Coun­ties Manukau 40-0 (4th) and Bay of Plenty 39-0 (3rd).

Un­like the men, only the top five women’s teams from the North­ern Re­gion­als earned the right to progress to the na­tion­als (which has a field of five women’s teams com­pared with 16 in the men’s field) thus North­land did not qual­ify

Coach Scott Collins said it was still a good ef­fort con­sid­er­ing this was the first time North­land had fea­tured in the women’s sec­tion for a few years now; and this rep­re­sented a step in the right di­rec­tion in terms of the steadily grow­ing pro­file of the women’s game in the area.

In the team were, Phoenix Lit­tin (Okai­hau Col­lege), Mia An­der­son, Manaia Webb, Leilani Er­win (all Kerik­eri High School); Sa­van­nah Bod­man (Kamo High), Holli O’Sul­li­van, Te Owai Ashby Nathan, Serai Mur­ray Wi­hongi, Kal­isha Wal­ters Mau (West­ern Sharks), Ti­mara Leaf (Coun­ties) and Te Ma­nia Te Iringa (Hora Hora).

Collins noted it was a very young team, with only three play­ers over 20, em­pha­sised with Lit­tin, age 17, and An­der­son, 16, act­ing as co cap­tains, and with no play­ers in­volved in any Black Ferns XV or 7s de­vel­op­men­tal pro­grammes un­like many of the other sides at the re­gion­als.

PIC­TURES/ MICHAEL CUN­NING­HAM, SUP­PLIED

Okai­hau Col­lege stu­dent Mia An­der­son (shown above at the Johnny Isaacs Maori Rugby tour­na­ment in Kawakawa ear­lier this year) and Phoenix Lit­tin from Kerik­eri High School (pic­tured in­set) co-cap­tained a very young North­land women’s team at the North­ern Re­gion rugby sevens tour­na­ment in Cam­bridge last week­end.

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