Each of the three Hurricanes Men’s and Women’s NPC provinces is represented in this weekend’s New Zealand Barbarians Rugby Championships Top Four tournament in Palmerston North.
St Mary’s College (Wellington), Feilding High School (Manawatu) and Hastings Boys’ High School (Hawke’s Bay) will all be stepping out on to the Massey University rugby fields on Friday in their Top Four semi-finals against Blues region opposition.
All three made last year’s finals but only one was victorious.
Feilding High School beat Aorere College 25-5 in last year’s Co-ed Cup final, while Hastings BHS missed out to Auckland’s Mount Albert Grammar School 13-14 and St Mary’s went down to Southland Girls’ High School 29-46.
Both Hastings and St Mary’s were playing in their first Top 4 finals, but return this year with many of their same squad members and an extra year’s experience under their engines.
In last Saturday’s Hurricanes region finals, Hastings accounted for Wellington WelTec Premiership champions St Pat’s Silverstream 47-17, St Mary’s College beat Manawatu winners Manukura 31-10 and Feilding High School edged gallant Wellington side Porirua College 15-11.
St Mary’s College open the tournament on Friday morning at 10.30am against Auckland and Blues champions Southern Cross Campus.
St Mary’s College defended their Wellington title this year, winning nine games on the trot and the final 51-12 against Aotea College. Additionally, the 2016 Condor Sevens champions won the Sanix World Youth Sevens in April.
Last year was their maiden season playing rugby and they went all the way to reach the final. Much of the squad that played Southland in the 2016 decider return. No. 8 Dhys Faleafaga captains the side while her injured sister Lyric Faleafaga joins the squad as assistant coach. Dhys and first five-eighth Cheyne Copeland are Wellington Pride squad members. As well as being committed defenders and using width out wide, a key part of their game should it get close is their experience under pressure, able to draw on previous recent rugby - and netball and other sports - big game situations.
Little is known about Southern Cross, except they will be big and physical and set a strong platform up front. They recently won their fourth straight Auckland title, beating Onehunga High School 24-17, while beating last year’s Top 4 side Kaipara College 26-5.
The winner of this match faces either Southland GHS or Hamilton GHS in the final on Sunday for the Hine Pounamu Trophy.
The St Mary’s squad for the Top 4 is:
Olivia Aunoa, Emma Brown, Cheyne Copeland, Malia Efaraimo-Leafe, Lomia Fa’amausili, Dhys Faleafaga, Pepeloha Foua, Valpiname Launiuvao, Janaya Lau-Young, Marianive Leota, Leni-Lia Moananu, Aria Ngarimu, Nataliah Penese, Bianca Petelo, Ainsleyana Puleiata, Damaris Samani, Ivana Samani, Renee Savai’inaea, Laina Semu, Katalina Tai, Temalesi-Isabel Rayasi, Tylah Tofilau, Riarna Vulu
Feilding High School enters the fray on Friday at 1.30pm against Rangitoto College.
Feilding High School are the defending champions and have won the Co-ed title three times winners overall. Feilding won eight out of ten games and were runners up to Wesley College in the Central North Island competition. Feilding was ahead 28-11 in the final, but lost on a last play try.
Notable victories were achieved against Wellington College, St. Paul’s Collegiate and Wesley College earlier in the season. Feilding had five elimination games in 15 days, a week off and then the Hurricanes final against Porirua College. Feilding won five of these games, four on the road and one at a neutral venue to prove their considerable character.
Both Feilding and their opposition on Friday, Rangitoto College, left it late to win their regional qualifiers. Feilding were trailing Porirua College 8-11 before scoring a try off a scrum 35 metres out to win the game. Rangitoto College were all square with Aorere College but their kicker Caleb Leef kicked a later pa nailed a last-gasp penalty to see them win 11-8.
The Feilding High School Squad is:
[Squad to be confirmed]
Hastings Boys’ High School encounter Auckland and Blues champions Saint Kentigern College at 1.10pm in a highly anticipated Friday afternoon fixture.
Hastings Boys’ High School is the only unbeaten team at the tourney and made the final in 2016 when they were beaten 13-14 by Mount Albert Grammar School. Hastings won 18 out of 19 last year and have been even better in 2017 winning 18 games and sharing the Super 8 final with Hamilton BHS. Hastings have scored 1121 points and conceded a mere 105 in 2017. Wing Kini Naholo has crossed for 40 tries alone.
Hastings had seven starters in the Hurricanes U18’s who beat the Crusaders 25-10 in July. They have threats all over the park. Players to Watch: Danny Toala (second-five), Kini Naholo (wing), Lincoln McClutchie (First-five), Folau Fakatava (halfback), Devon Flanders (No.8), Jeriah Mua (openside), Josh Tevita-Metcalf (prop).
St Kent’s arrive at the Top four tournament for the fifth time in seven seasons, having won the National co-ed title with a 20-2 record in 2011 and the boys crown with a faultless 20-0 record in 2012. St. Kent’s lost 15-5 to Hastings BHS in a pre-season match, while they came back to beat Sacred Heart College 26-19 in the Auckland 1A final.
The Hastings Boys’ High School squad is:
Giedon Kautai ,Trent Hape, Dennon Robinson, Danny Toala, Kini Naholo, Lincoln McClutchie, Folua Fakatava, Devon Flanders, Jeriah Mua, Liam Udy-Johns, Donovan Mataria, Tane Hopiha, Josh Tevita-Metcalf, Miracle Lolofie, Kinau Keruru-Symes, Daramias Hokinga, Corban Kireka, Zac Southwick, Emil Crichton, Jacob Stephenson, Sharama Brooks, Jordon Thompson-Dunn
Who do you think will win? Vote in College Sport Media’s poll here