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North Otago’s Spirit Girls

Past and Present North Otago players: Georgina McCullough, Morgan Walker, Gina Healey, Cheyenne Cunningham and Morgan Henderson

This year saw three girls Morgan Henderson, Cheyenne Cunningham and Georgina McCullough from North Otago make the Otago Spirit side that play in the Farah Palmer Cup in the National Provincial Championship.

In making the squad this meant a commitment of travelling to Dunedin on a Tuesday and Thursday night for trainings and then travelling for games in the weekend with the team. North Otago weren’t the only girls travelling, with girls coming from Southland and Wanaka also for training and games. To say it was a massive commitment and took up evenings and weekends was an understatement but what makes the hard work worth it is when you get rewarded and, in this instance, when you make the final. It is also about the opportunity to test your skills against New Zealand’s top rugby players and play/ represent your province in the national league.

Each week the 3 North Otago girls have made it into the travelling squad and played a part in the Otago Spirit campaign. Morgan is a loose forward who brings plenty of intensity/aggression and strong ball running skills. Cheyenne is a speedster who plays fullback and wing. Georgina plays in the midfield and carries strong.

The season started with a 27-13 win over North Harbour at home in Dunedin. Week 2 was the Spirit vs Hawkes Bay Tui’s which was won 31-12 played in Dunedin also. Week 3 was a tough match against Wellington in Wellington where the Spirit went down 38-10. The scored favoured the home side but the game was a lot closer than reflected. Week 4 was the cross over game for Otago against the Premier side Counties Manukau which resulted in another loss 39-8, again not a true reflection on the game.

Week 5 saw a trip up to New Plymouth to play new comers to FPC Taranaki with a high scoring game win of 65-0. To Taranaki who have lost every game it is good to have you in the competition and the first year is always going to be tough but it is a time for building. Week 6 was a trip to Blenheim to play Tasman who are only in their second year in the FPC. Otago won 48-7 which meant a home semi-final against Hawkes Bay.

Otago Spirit beat Hawkes Bay 34-10 in a physical game to see Otago advance through to the finals against Wellington who beat North Harbour 33-7. The finals are this weekend 1pm Porirua Park against Wellington who were top round robin qualifiers.

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