COUSINS Anahera Campbell and Chyann Kaitapu both from Te Kaha and Finau Mafi from Opotiki celebrate winning the New Zealand National 1st XV Championships. Photo supplied

RUGBY whanau from the Eastern Bay were among those celebrating the win of the Hamilton Girls High School 1st XV rugby team after they won back-to-back national titles recently.

Played at Palmerston North, the top four competition pits the best four against each other in a sudden death play-off to win the title of New Zealand’s best 1st XV in girls, co-ed and boys’ divisions.

For the third consecutive year, Hamilton Girls 1st XV made the final and for the second year came out the winners.

Among the New Zealand 1st XV girls’ champion team are six players from the Eastern Bay including Anahera Campbell (hooker) and her cousin Chyann Kaitapu (prop) from Te Kaha, Finau Mafi (No 8) and Reese Anderson both from Opotiki, and Dawn Hohua (full-back) and Rayarn Tamati (centre) from Te Teko.

Hamilton Girls 1st XV won the Waikato competition and then won respective Chiefs’ Cup play-off matches to make the prestigious top four.

For these Eastern Bay players, it’s been a long tough season with a dream ending.
Anahera is a year 11 student from Te Kaha who has been boarding at the school’s Sonninghill Hostel for three years.

Anahera chose the school to pursue her love of rugby, having played junior rugby, the last three seasons for Whakatane Marist travelling more than three hours twice a week to train and play.

One of the top players in her Whakatane Marist club team, Anahera was one of only two players selected to represent the Whakatane club and play for the North Island Marist team in the annual match against the South Island team in 2016.

She was also awarded the club’s ‘most promising player’ trophy, an appropriate award for the player who is now in the starting line-up of the Hamilton Girls High School 1st XV.

Meanwhle, former Opotiki player Tahu Kemara was in the starting line-up for Hamilton Boys High School in their top four play-off against Hastings Boys High. Having pipped Hamilton by one point in the semi, Hastings went on to beat Kings College in the final 27-14.