Aidan Elvines AshHutt Rugby Girls webAshHutt’s Aidan Elvines hunts for a gap in the Craighead defence in Methven on Wednesday. Photo Matt MarkhamAfter copping a hiding from Timaru Girls’ High School (TGHS) a week prior, Craighead arrived at the Methven Domain a girls’ rugby team on a mission on Wednesday night.

They took their frustrations out on the AshHutt girls, handing the Ashburton College and Mount Hutt College combined side a 57-5 loss.

The night didn’t start so bad, though, coach Grant Elvines said.

For once, his side started well with a long period of possession and territory, but they found out just how good the Craighead backline was pretty quickly.

The Craighead backs taught the AshHutt girls a valuable lesson on straight, hard running, drawing and passing, and how to get the ball to the outside backs as quickly as possible.

“Our backs played well, but were no match for what was an exceptionally well-drilled group of girls,” Elvines said.

The AshHutt forwards had the measure of their counterparts, especially at scrum-time, and were more than competitive at rucks and mauls, but no matter how many tackles they made there was always another Craighead jersey on hand to carry the movement on.

Elvines said the midfield pairing of Olivia Bishop and Jorja Johnston produced a strong performance, especially on defence, and halfback Isabelle Talbot distributed the ball well, at times under a lot of pressure.

The AshHutt tight five had probably their best game of the season, shining in the set piece, and there was no loss of momentum when reserve locks Georgia Middleton and Margret Eli came off the bench, with Eli scoring AshHutt’s only try of the night.

Elvines said loose forward Grace Bleach was again like a puppy with two tails and her enthusiasm for the game was contagious, while captain Aidan Elvines led her troops from the front, again topping the tackle count.

“The pleasing thing as a coach is seeing an improvement from the girls every game they play, and it was just unfortunate we struck Craighead on a day when they were on fire,” coach Elvines said.

It was a sad night for the AshHutt side, as they said farewell to Mount Hutt College’s Tyla Harraway, who was playing in her final match for the side.

Elvines said Harraway had been a real warrior in the team for the past three years and she would be sorely missed, but the team wished her well.

Life wasn’t about to get any easier for AshHutt, with their next match being against the top of the table TGHS side.

That game will be played at the Ashburton Celtic grounds at 4.30pm this Wednesday.

Meanwhile Mid Canterbury Combined will run out onto the Ashburton College field for their final time in this year’s UC Championship today.

They’re playing Timaru Boys’ High School in the Crusaders region secondary schools’ rugby championship game, which will kick off at midday.

The Mid Canterbury Combined boys are yet to win a game this season, while TBHS haven’t fared much better, with just two victories from their eight outings.

© The Ashburton Guardian - 28 June 2019


BasketballYouth overcame experience as the Ashburton College boys beat Team Donkey in the latest round of Basketball Mid Canterbury’s men’s A grade competition on Wednesday night.

The College side’s 79-76 win at the Oxford Street stadium was only their third of the competition, and just the Donkeys’ second loss, as the competition’s third round got under way.

It was an exciting encounter, with College A matching up to the more experienced Team Donkey side and holding them well, but Team Donkey were good at exploiting mismatches and took a 21-19 lead into the second quarter.

Team Donkey continued to work well offensively and edged further ahead in the second, but College finished well keeping the halftime score to 40–34.

The all telling third quarter was a game changer, College coach Brian Kerr said.

College started off well, managing to hit from range and increasing their speed up the court which allowed them to drive more freely.

Fotu Hala hit the first seven points for his side, but it was the diminutive Thomas Patterson who stole the show.

He hit a trio of three pointers in a row, as well as two audacious drives, netting 13 points in a two-minute spree and suddenly College were back in front and on a roll.

Like the good team they were, Team Donkey fought back and threatened the lead, but College maintained their cool, taking a 63–55 lead into the fourt.

Team Donkey challenged as College continued to hit early baskets, and eventually the Donkeys drew even, and a tense final few minutes ensued.

A Sam Pearce three-pointer gave College a five point lead, before Pip Johnston got one back to reduce it to two, before a late foul saw Liam Sullivan sink a free throw which pushed College out to a three-point lead.

With 13 seconds to go, Team Donkey called a time out and set up a play needing a three to draw, but College were up to the task and denied them a decent look at the basket to take it 79-76.

With Quinn Ritchie missing through injury, and the fact Fotu Hala fouled out halfway through the fourth, the win extra good, Kerr said.

He said Patterson’s third quarter shooting spree was the turning point, and he ended the game with 17 points, as did Pearce, while Hala added 20.

For Team Donkey, Pip Johnston again led the way with 34 points, but he was well supported by Brad van der Eik with 15 points.

The night’s other game saw Star Farmers Corner come out on top of their latest tussle with Nomads, 86-71.

Farmers Corner led 19–17 lead after the first quarter and neither side gave an inch in the second, with Nomads good inside and on the drive, and Farmers Corner shooting well.

By half-time Nomads led 38-37, but just like in the first game of the night, the third quarter was telling.

Farmers Corner outpaced Nomads, scoring freely on the fast break, whereas Nomads were unable to drop their shots and by the end of the third quarter Farmers Corner were out in front 69–48 lead. Farmers Corner won the third quarter 32–10.

From then on, Nomads were chasing hard. They managed to close up the gap to 13 points, but smart play by Farmers Corner allowed them to score points when they needed to and take the win 86–71.

For Farmers Corner, Randy Buenafe top scored with 30 points and was hugely successful on the fast break, while Marvin Agacer found his shooting form again, hitting 22 points.

For Nomads, Tony Gilbert worked hard inside top scoring with 20 points, Mikal Johnson  added 13 points, and Sam Moore finished with 12 points

© The Ashburton Guardian - 28 June 2019

Grace Wilson Rowing webAshburton’s Grace Wilson, a student at the University of Otago, is part of the New Zealand Universities Trans Tasman rowing team. Photo Erin TaskerAn Ashburton girl now attending university in Dunedin is getting ready to represent her country at rowing for the first time.

Grace Wilson, 20, is a part of the 2019 New Zealand University Trans Tasman team’s women’s eight to compete against Australian universities at Cambridge’s Lake Karapiro next week, and has spent this week in camp getting to know her fellow crew members.

Wilson, a second year student at Otago University, is just one of two girls from the university lining up as part of the women’s eight at the trans-Tasman event, with the other being Katie Bell.

It’s set to be the biggest challenge of her rowing career to date, and Wilson can’t wait.

“It’s the first New Zealand team I have made, so it’s pretty up there, I guess,” she said.

Wilson started rowing at the end of Year 9 at Ashburton College.

Her older sisters rowed, as did her friend Veronica Wall, so Wilson thought she’d give it a go, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Between them, Wilson and Wall ended up being forces to be reckoned with on the water.

Wilson said her career highlight is still the 2017 national secondary schools’ Maadi Cup regatta, where they won gold in the under-18 double and quad.

It was a huge achievement for both the young rowers, the school, and the Ashburton Rowing Club, with Ashburton being a relative newcomer on the rowing scene compared to some.

“When I started we got like 11th at Maadi and we thought we were awesome,” Wilson said.

With rowing having been a huge part of Wilson’s teenage years, there was no question as to whether she’d continue when she headed to Dunedin for tertiary study.

A talented young netballer as well, Wilson eventually gave that sport away but continued to row, swapping Lake Hood for the at times more challenging waters of the harbour in Dunedin, and getting her first taste of the eight boat.

Growing up in Ashburton, there was an eight boat, but they didn’t have enough people to crew it, and while the bigger boat has taken a bit of getting used to, it’s a boat Wilson is now more than comfortable in.

At the New Zealand Universities Championships earlier this year she was part of the winning crews in the varsity eight and quad, and followed that up with a successful trial for the national team, which meant there’s been no time to rest.

Rowing may typically be a summer sport, but the trans-Tasman event is being held in the middle of a New Zealand winter, meaning there’s been no let-up for Wilson and her crew-mates.

She’s been hitting the water three times a week – weather permitting – and even managed to get out on Lake Hood at the weekend, while she was home for a few days before heading to Cambridge.

The rest of her training has been done indoors, with countless hours spent on ergs, and Wilson hopes all of that hard work will pay off in the coming days.

Wilson and her New Zealand Universities team-mates have spent this week training up in Cambridge, before the Australians arrive ready to race in what is likely to be cooler conditions that they’re used to, next week.

By Erin Tasker © The Ashburton Guardian - 28 June 2019