North Otago sides produced some fine performances at South Island tournaments last week.
The under-16 and under-18 teams combined for just one win in six games across the two events, but could quite easily have turned some narrow losses into wins.
A particularly promising North Otago side showed glimpses of its ability at the South Island under-16 tournament in Oamaru.
The youngsters slipped to a 59-17 loss to Nelson Bays on the opening day, rebounded with a 34-28 win over Mid Canterbury on Friday, and finished with a 34-24 loss to Canterbury Country on Saturday to finish sixth overall.
Coach Mark Wilson said it was the best result North Otago had posted at the under-16 tournament in “some years”, and he was proud of the team.
“Potentially, we could have done better, but the boys came together well and were exceptional,” Wilson said.
“We’d just have loved more time together with them. We would have been physically the smallest side at the tournament, but when we implemented our game plan, we were unstoppable.”
Wilson highlighted the efforts of Bryden Skinner, the Waitaki Boys’ High School outside back who shone in the midfield, lock Oli Kinzett, prop Tupou Fifita, No 8/hooker Siketi Tevao and flanker Jacob Pledger.
He said the team bonded well through being in camp at the Waitaki Boys’ hostel, and spending a fun day kayaking before the tournament.
In Christchurch, a revived North Otago under-18 team held its own at the older South Island age group tournament.
North Otago roared back from a 33-0 halftime deficit against Canterbury Cavaliers to win the second half but lose 41-19, was narrowly beaten 20-18 by Canterbury Country Development, and finished with a 26-3 loss to Mid Canterbury.
Lock Eli Winders was the team’s player of the tournament, while prop Esafe Tokai and midfielder Forrest Beer were among others to shine.