Marist player Karlee Cruickshank being tackled by Midlands players during the 2022 Southland senior women’s club rugby final at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
Marist capped off a dominant 2022 season on Saturday adding another Southland senior women’s club rugby title to its collection.
Although its coach, Maima Afutu, points out Midlands gave her team a real scare throughout the final played at Rugby Park.
Midlands opened the scoring in the decider to go up 7-0 before Marist eventually started to overpower Midlands to run out 25-14 winners.
“They came out of blocks really strong and were obviously really determined to give it to us. I’d say our girls were probably a bit shocked,” Afutu said.
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“Nerves got the better of them at the start, it took them a while to get into it and eventually come away with the win.”
Marist’s win in Saturday’s final meant they went through the 2022 season unbeaten.
It racked up 236 points in attack and conceded just 20 points through its five round-robin games to head into the final warm favorites.
Marist possesses a good mix of experience and youth with the likes of Teliah Templeton, Harmony Smith, and Stacy Roderique being key figures for the club over a long period of time.
While Midlands came up short on Saturday the Winton-based club will be thrilled with what was produced after deciding to get a women’s team together this year.
Many players from the dominant Blues team of recent seasons made the switch to Midlands which meant they were able to assemble a strong team.
The women’s rugby focus will now switch to the representative programme.
Galbraith Shield comp heats up
In the curtain-raiser to the women’s final at Rugby Park on Saturday Pirates-Old Boys and Marist squared off in a men’s premier competition fixture.
It was a one-sided affair with competition leaders Pirates-Old Boys running out 59-19 winners after leading 21-7 at halftime.
Pirates-Old Boys piled on 38 second-half points as it now zeros in on a date in the July 16 Galbraith Shield final.
No semi-finals are being held in 2022 meaning the top two teams head straight to a competition decider.
With three rounds to play Pirates-Old Boys sit four points clear of second-place Woodlands, but more importantly it holds an eight-point lead over third-place Blues.
A Pirates-Old Boys v Woodlands final seems inevitable, although Blues could put plenty of pressure on Woodlands if it wins its remaining two games.
Blues missed a golden opportunity on Saturday when Woodlands scored in the last-play of the game to latch onto a 34-34 draw in an entertaining game played at Oreti Park.
Woodlands held the edge in the first half before Blues took charge in the second half which included two tries to No 8 Albert Qoro.
With time up Blues led 34-27 only for tighthead prop Paula Latu to crash over close to the posts.
Liam Howley added the extras to lock in a 34-34 draw and importantly three competition points.
In the third premier game on Saturday Star marked its club day in style. It was too good for Midlands at Waverley Park running out 53-7 winners.
Marist 25, Midlands 14.
Pirates Old Boys 59, Marist 19; Woodlands 34, Blues 34; Star 53, Midlands 7.
Tokanui 12, Pioneer 3; Waikaka/Riversdale 34, Drummond-Limehills-Star 28; Edendale 50, Te Anau 5; Mataura 25, Albion 17; Wyndham 52, Waikiwi 21.
Bluff 19, Riverton 18; Ohai Nightcaps/Otautau 30, Waiau Star 8; Balfour/Lumsden 43, Bush Pirates 12. Mossburn beat Collegiate by default.
Division Two (Development)
Blues 43, Woodlands 7; Marist 23, Pirates-Old Boys 19; Star beat Midlands by default.