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The Te Waipounamu (South Island) women's touch team won the inaugural Premier Touch League in Auckland on Sunday.
It is a new national series comprising four franchises — three based in the North Island and one in the south — which played over four weekends. The teams featured all of the country’s players and culminated in a finals weekend in Auckland.
Otago made up the majority of the squad of 21 for the South Island women’s team and it was coached by Dunedin’s Damian Burden and managed by Toni Wal, also of Dunedin. The assistant coach was Dennis Thompson, from Southland.
Atawhai Hotene and Dayna Turnbull co-captained the team and also from Otago were Trish Hopcroft, Abbey Johnson, Meg Sycamore, Molly Wheeley, Jessica Faulks, Bridget Johnstone, Beryn Abbot, McKayler Moore, Millie Scully and Brooke McAlwee.
In the first four rounds, teams played two games each against the other three franchises.
On Sunday, South Island played the Northern Strikers (a franchise that combines North Harbour and Northland) in the semifinal, winning 9-6.
Then it played the top-seeded Manukau Raiders in the final, running out the winner 6-4.
Burden said it was a huge boost for women's touch in the South Island given the power base of touch has been firmly entrenched in the North Island.
The team’s most valuable player was Meg Sycamore while the co-captains also had a big hand in the victory.
Burden said with the team spread from Marlborough to Lumsden, training was not always easy.
But the side had a couple of training camps over weekends and some good old southern spirit gelled the players together well.
Combinations had taken a while to get going and some players were unavailable for the opening weekends because of study but once the side came together, it really clicked.
In the final, the side leapt out of the blocks and led 6-3 well into the second half and withstood a strong Manukau comeback to win the game and the title.