Marlborough’s junior touch teams wound up 2019 in fine style with a stellar showing at the recent South Island age group championships in Christchurch.
Ninety players, coaches and managers travelled south to represent the province at the Southern IPS event, six teams taking on the best the Mainland could offer.
Marlborough’s effort at the annual event was described as “one of the best ever” by local touch administrators, underlining the burgeoning strength of the sport in this province.
Showing the way at Burnside Park for the Marlborough contingent were the under-16 mixed side and the under-12 girls, both of whom claimed gold medals.
The under-16 mixed side, coached by Serena and MacDougall, beat Canterbury in a thrilling final, Nikau Peipi scoring the vital try in a drop off after the scores were level 5-5 at fulltime. Hugh Robinson, Jack Burdon, Peipi, Jake Pacey and Stormy Tupara all had exceptional tournaments, said the coaches.
The opened the tournament by beating Otago 18 11-6, then lost a nail-biter to Canterbury 6-7. Next came a 3-3 draw with Otago and a 6-3 win over Canterbury 18 before the 6-5 final result.
The under-12 girls, coached by Todd Nicholas and Peter Flynn, capped a superb unbeaten season with a dominant display in Christchurch, conceding just one try.
The beat Otago 3-0, Canterbury Black (B) 5-0, Canterbury White (C) 12-0, Southland 9-0, Canterbury Red (A) 2-0 then downed Canterbury Red (A) 5-1 in the final. The Marlborough girls scored 36 tries while having their line crossed just once.
In their previous tournament, in Nelson during November, they beat Canterbury White 8-0, Canterbury Black 7-1, Nelson 7-0, West Coast 3-0, Marlborough Grey 7-0 and Motueka 8-1, scoring 40 tries and conceding just two.
The other four Marlborough teams in action in Christchurch also performed with distinction. The under-12 boys side and the under-14 girls sides both finished fifth, the under-14 boys came fourth while the under-14 mixed team fought their way into third.
The Southern IPS tournament will be the last tournament facilitated by Touch New Zealand for this age group as they are falling into line with Sport New Zealand and no longer running under-10, under-12 or under-14 tournaments.
The next assignment for Marlborough’s junior touch sides will be a trip to the national champs in Auckland in February. The under-16 mixed side and an under-18 mixed combination will travel north.
The victorious Marlborough teams in Christchurch.
Under 12 Girls Red – coach Todd Nicholas and Peter Flynn; manager Tash Flynn: Poppy Parkinson, Sophia Nicholas, Bree Flynn, Ava Marcroft, Tilly Tupouto’a, Isla Tilbury, Kara Beattie, Isla Watene, Olivia Brown, Elizabeth Pousima, Sammie Joyce, Pippa Clarke.
Under 16 Mixed – coach Serena MacDougall and Matt MacDougall; manager Laura Murphy: Jake Pacey, Patrick Thompson, Hugh Robinson, Bray Taumoefolau, Kobe MacDougall, Will Flynn, Jack Burdon, Nikau Peipi, Charles Tupouto’a, Jimmy Morris, Delyth James-Sitters, Chelsea Martin, Nikita Gapper, Stormy Tupara, Ataliaya Lambert, Rosie Bowers.