Varsity, Ajax to start club season in clash of heavyweights

Caitlin O'Connell. Photo: ODT files
Caitlin O'Connell. Photo: ODT files
Varsity created history last year — can they do it again this year?

They get their first shot when the Otago women’s club season starts with a rematch of last year’s final against Ajax at the Edgar Centre tonight.

Varsity won their first A grade title in 24 years and denied Ajax their fourth consecutive title when they won the final 54-49.

League MVP and Southern Hoiho player Caitlin O’Connell was instrumental in Varsity’s success last season and is back again to help them hunt for back-to-back titles.

Sophie Adams and Tyler Mitchell, who also made some valuable contributions to get the Hoiho to the Tauihi playoffs, are back for Varsity.

None of the trio played in the final last year, showing the depth coming through Varsity. Abby Harris, another Hoiho player, is also suiting up again.

Ajax have a stacked squad again this year and can count on the experience of Tall Fern Zoe Richards and Southern Hoiho captain Samara Gallaher to lead the charge.

Hoiho player Natalie Ivamy, Janet Maoate-Breen, who played for the Hoiho in their debut season, and former Silver Fern Jodi Brown add plenty of depth as well.

South Pac Magic will also draw on their own Hoiho experience in Millie Simpson, and Dayna Turnbull and Tarryn Dickson add plenty of value as well.

The Andy Bay Falcons are without Britt Richards, who played big minutes in the Rapid League last year.

But Alexa Duff, who was a development player for the Hoiho last season and is also
a handy javelin thrower, will be key alongside fellow development player Elise Carline.

The Falcons and Magic play each other in the earlier game tonight.