The Manawatu Wanganui womens team finished a very creditable 6th place (from 14 teams) at the National Interprovincial Champs played in Ashburton last week.
With Brydie Hodge and Amber-Rose Thompson-Newth heading overseas this year and Emma Clayton not currently available, the team was very much in rebuild phase this year. However as the year progressed, positive signs emerged with Maraea Durie returning from the US. The team culture and confidence grew throughout the year.
Maraea was able to fill the difficult number 1 position in the team, while the young up and coming players Tara Raj and Katherine Paskins were able to step up to this level of competition. Leanne Brown and Tania Hook showed the strong matchplay fighting qualities, required at these events.
In round robin they defeated Otago, Wellington, Taranaki and Northland to finish 3rd in their division, and qualify through to the playoff match for 5th placing against Auckland. The losses were to the 2 stronger teams in that division Bay of Plenty and North Harbour.
Despite a very narrow 3/2 loss to Auckland, which came right down to the wire with Maraea's match against NZ Rep Munchin Keh, the entire team should be very proud of their week. The signs for next year are looking promising, if each player can raise their games to another level with an extra year of experience.
Canterbury won the event with a dominant 5 - 0 win against Bay of Plenty in the final. The Canterbury team deserved their win, as they went through the tournament unbeaten. They have some talented youngsters amongst their ranks, that all perform well in National events, therefore it was no real surprise to see them claiming this years championship.