OPOTIKI'S Tiana Elmiger is on attack against North Harbour at the Northern Interprovincial Series touch tournament in Rotorua last weekend. Photo Steph Walker

A SIGNIFICANT Eastern Bay influence helped Bay of Plenty teams claim five titles at the Northern Interprovincial Series touch tournament in Rotorua last weekend.

The regional event included 89 teams, 18 of which represented Bay of Plenty. Opotiki players were part of the Bay teams.

In the under-10 grade, Edgecumbe’s Hamiora Hale coached the boys’ team who won the second division. In the mixed first division Maui Teepa coached his victory and Te Ao L’auluao was named most valuable player. Hemi Barsdell coached the girls’ team who had it tough being a division two, team playing in division one. All three under-10 coaches and their managers are in their first year taking representative teams.

The under-12 grade was more difficult for Bay teams. Te Kauru Edwards coached the girls’ division one team who had close games against North Harbour and Waikato, losing by one try. Tougher opponents Auckland, were the victors against Counties in the finals.

Some games in the under-14 grade were livestreamed through the Touch New Zealand over the two days.

The Bay teams had mixed results with the division one girls and boys both finishing fourth.

Both teams featured a significant number of Eastern Bay players and Zion Wipaki-McLarin was named most valuable player for the boys’ team. The girls’ division two team won gold and in the mixed first division, the Bay started with a one-try loss in their first game but recovered to dominate the mixed grade along with Counties who they met in the finals. The game could have gone either way before the Bay won 5-4.

The next tournament on the Bay of Plenty calendar is the Junior National Championships, also in Rotorua, on February 8-10.

Touch Bay of Plenty president Mike Te Kurapa said he hoped for lots of positive support for the players given that the tournament was being held in the Bay.

He said there were a high number of Eastern Bay teenagers in Bay teams with seasoned age group players Ngarori Waititi, Dallas Teepa and Zavia Walker making their final appearance at the tournament.