RECOGNITION FOR SCORPIONS 15s PLAYERS AND STAFF TEMPERS FINAL LOSS
The sting of a 16-14 defeat to Auckland Vulcans in the NZRL National Youth Tournament final took little away from Southern Zone Scorpions 15s’ watershed campaign in Rotorua.
Reaching the decider for the first time, the Scorpions reeled in a 10-0 halftime deficit and stormed into the lead after quick back-to-back tries from lock Uriah Tuli and hooker Ethan Faitaua.
A barnstorming break from front-rower Jaedon Wellington put the Scorpions in position for Tuli to score, while Faitaua’s four-pointer came courtesy of a brilliant solo dart from dummy-half.
The Vulcans – who won Tuesday’s round-robin clash with the Scorpions 18-4 – broke the South Islanders’ hearts with a converted try inside the final 10 minutes.
But individual recognition for the Scorpions’ overachieving efforts helped ease the disappointment of the narrow defeat.
Canterbury trio Wellington, Tuli and Felix Fa’atili, and West Coast’s Jack Campbell were all named in the 15s Tournament Merit Team. Walter Wilson was named Coach of the Tournament and fellow Halswell stalwarts, manager Rachel Te Hau and trainer Kevin Te Hau, both picked up awards as the tournament standouts in their respective roles.
The Scorpions 15s’ results, which included a 22-12 win over Akarana Falcons in Thursday’s semi-final, are hugely encouraging for junior rugby league in the South Island. The 20-player squad was made up of a 15-strong Canterbury contingent and five from West Coast.
Meanwhile, the Scorpions 17s also did their region proud in finishing fourth. After a tough 44-8 semi-final loss to Counties on Thursday, the Scorpions were gallant in a 26-16 playoff defeat to their Vulcans counterparts on Friday.
Hornby Panthers’ Caius Fa’atili and West Coaster Griffin Neame were both named in the 17s Tournament Merit Team, while the Scorpions won the Fairplay Team of the Tournament award.
The Scorpions 17s squad featured 13 players from Canterbury, five from West Coast, two from Otago and one from Southland.