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Mountain Maidens to take on Waiapu

The field opened up in a big way last weekend.

With the Hikurangi Mountain Maidens’ 17-10 upset win against a team who hadn’t lost in three and a half seasons — women’s champions Tihirau Victory Club — in 1 v 4 at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, the Doone Harrison-coached side made history.

And they qualified for the Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast women’s club rugby final, TVC having beaten them 17-7 at the same venue only a week before.

It was a tremendous turnaround in fortunes, made possible at least in part by Harrison’s outlook and priorities: “We want to create a team environment that people want to be part of. We want to learn how to bring the best out of each other through rugby.”

Harrison is one of the best rugby brains on the Coast.

Steering Waiapu this season is Hugh Tibble. First-year women’s rugby team coach he is, but he — like Harrison — understands his players.

“I listen to them and I’m happy to step back . . . 85 percent of them hadn’t played before, but their eagerness has got them to the final and while there are nerves, we’ve had support from overseas.

“That includes my first cousin Michael Davy-Mahiika, the fitness coach for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and Don Tricker, health and fitness coach for the San Diego Padres.

“I’m here to market my team for three years, and to do what I can for them in that time.”

With mentors like Harrison, whose local knowledge is second to none, and men of not just experience but broad expertise in Hugh Tibble, Hikurangi and Waiapu really can regard this championship final as a big first step.

Ngati Porou East Coast Rugby is providing the women’s game with real investment and backing, and at George Nepia Memorial Park in Rangitukia — venue for the women’s final for the Hamo Te Rangi Cup from 12 midday tomorrow — the turnout and atmosphere will be memorable, no matter the weather.

Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast Club Rugby women’s final for the Hamo Te Rangi Cup, George Nepia Memorial Park, Rangitukia, TOMORROW, 12 midday. Referee: Esther Whaiapu.

Waiapu: Rakai Hohepa, Lymicah Williams-Pohio, Laine Tangaere, Billi Jo Tangaere, Billie Delamere-Mita, Jordan Waitoa, Chakakhan Edmonds, Sensamelia Hina (captain), Maia Rickard, Talon August, Whai Bishop, Kimiora Atkins, Missy Ngerengere, Bobbi Jo Hina, Southern-Rose. Fraser. Reserves: Summah Walker, Moriana Grace, Makere Kupenga, Klah King, Jessie Tibble, Brenna August, Hariata Hovell, Orewa Atkins, Materoa Waitoa.

Hikurangi Mountain Maidens: Hinerangi Wilson, Vanessa Ngarimu, Taare Haua-Kahaki, Kimiora Parata, Waiotemarama Parata, Kara Keelan, Jade Tangaere-Tuhua (co-captain), Maraea Green, Jody Waru, Katerina Ngarimu (cc), Ariki Beach, Kadeem Ngarimu, Taina Keelan-Wyllie, Manaia Beach, Aria Ngarimu. Reserves: Te Huinga Harrison, Areta Morice, Julia Keelan, Te Awhenga Ngarimu, Betty Rei, Kenz Cook, Sarah-Jane Heeney, Cassiopeia Harrison, Taylah Sykes-Martin, Mikaylah Coulston, Ryan Manuel, Kyra-Dean Kenworthy, Debbie Hongara, Bayleigh Harrison, Maraea Ngarimu, Hiraina Green.