Marlborough’s representative teams at the Youth Nationals 2021 set a new benchmark for the province.
The under-16 mixed side came away from the Auckland tournament during the weekend of February 13-14 finishing a creditable sixth out of 15 teams, while the under-18 mixed team came 10th out of 13 rivals.
The U16s took their chances and managed to close out the really tight games , something they couldn’t do last year.
Their televised game against Southland was a master class by Marlborough on how to play mixed touch with Delyth James-Sitters taking on the boys in the middle and shutting down tryscoring opportunities. Hugh Robinson proved too much for all teams to handle, scoring in every game or setting up others to score.
They were placed on the tough side of the draw. Nelson, a side they beat 6-1 in a friendly two weeks ago finished fourth while Marlborough held eventual winners Bay of Plenty to the closest score of the weekend.
The U18 reps showed huge improvement, with close scores throughout except a 12-2 loss to eventual winners Te Tai Tokerau, where they couldn’t shut down the speed and aggression of their opponents.
Standout players were Kyren Taumoefolau and Nikau Peipi, with Eleri James Sitters, Anika Moetaua and Stormy Tupara proving they can foot it with the best female players in NZ.
Standout players for the U16s were Hugh Robinson, Jack Burdon and Delyth James Sitters.
In another boost for Marlborough touch, Robinson was named in the New Zealand U16 mixed team, with the Under 18 teams to be announced after senior nationals in early March.
Tour manager Anne Taylor said, “We will review the representative programme in thorough detail as we are now in a position to compete against the best, so every detail counts. These results have been four years in the making and every year we compete we get better.
“The scores don’t always reflect the game as the pressure and competitiveness of touch is huge.
“Everyone in Marlborough Touch is proud of Hugh as he was the standout male player across all teams in the competition. He was absolutely outstanding and it is great to see him recognised.”
Under-21 and open mixed teams will travel to Christchurch in early March to play in the senior nationals.
Youth Nationals results:
Under 16 Mixed: BOP lost 4-1; Manawatu lost 9-7; Southland won 8-5; Otago won 5-3; Te Tai Tokerau won 6-4; Counties Manakau won 7-6; Auckland won 6-5. Play off for 5/6 – lost to Southland 7-4 (Plate Final).
Under 18 mixed: lost to Taranaki 10-7; beat Waikato Black 5-4; lost to Waikato Red 8-5; lost to BOP 8-5; lost to Te Tai Tokerau 12-2. Bowl Final – Lost 6-3 Whanganui.