BNH National Representation – report by Lindsay Knight
As was the case two years ago in the final in Christchurch, the powerful Nelson club proved to be Takapuna’s nemesis in the 2022-23 national women’s inter-club sevens championship which finished in Wellington at the weekend.
Nelson, which has as its inspiration two of New Zealand’s greatest ever players, male or female, in Jo Edwards and Val Smith, spearheaded their side to a 3-0 win in the semi-final.
There was even more disappointment for North Harbour’s men’s representative in the sevens, Browns Bay, who failed to make post-section play, finishing fourth in its section.
Its team was Colin Rogan (singles), Brian Wilson and John Feast (pairs), the latter a late replacement for Sean Mulholland and the Neil Fisher-skipped four of John Walker, David McMurchy and Mike Garton.
Despite a wealth of experience in its ranks Browns Bay never looked a title threat, though it could claim the distinction of beating one of the finalists, Stoke from Nelson, in the opening round of section play.
However, in the second round it came up against the other finalist, Southland’s Gore, and was well beaten 3-0, a setback from which it never recovered.
The setback of losing in the semi-final apart, it was a courageous effort by Takapuna’s women’s team to try to retain the 2021-22 title which was won so splendidly at Browns Bay last November.
To again have a podium finish for the third season in a row, against such strong New Zealand competition is a feat in itself.
Selina Goddard’s only loss was in the semi-final to the legendary Edwards 21-12 and ended what had been a golden run for her in the past few weeks, with her gold medal and bronze in the pairs in the recent multi-nations tournament on Australia’s Gold Coast and some sublime performances in the sevens.
Up until the loss to Edwards she had won six singles games on the trot, most by big margins and these were capped by an especially impressive performance in the quarter-final against Queenstown’s capable Christine Buchanan.
Selina was well complemented by Robyne Walker and Keiko Kurohara in the pairs and by the Wendy Jensen-skipped four of Lauren Mills, Trish Hardy and Adele Ineson. In qualifying play the four’s only loss was in the last round and that was largely academic as the singles and pairs had been decided in Takapuna’s favour.
Robyne and Keiko dropped a couple of games in section play, but saved their best for a crushing win in the pairs in the quarter-final against a Margaret O’Connor-skipped Queenstown.
To have easily topped their section in qualifying was another feat deserving plaudits. Takapuna started with a 3-0 whitewash of Havelock, Malborough and there were equally commanding performances against strong opposition from Taranaki’s Paritutu and Dunedin’s North East Valley.
Tauranga, whose side included former North Harbour player Gayle Melrose, beat Nelson in an exciting women’s final, with Edwards’ Nelson’s only winner, and Gore, with national singles champion Sheldon Bagrie-Howley in its ranks, beat Stoke in the men’s final.