The Central Otago Does’ rugby season is coming to a head this Saturday, with a final showdown against the Kaikorai Valley Demons.
The Does have won all but two games this season, being beaten by Kaikorai twice, setting them up for a shot at redemption this weekend in the women’s development grade final.
Coach and player Tia Clark said the team had learnt from each loss.
‘‘We’re definitely going to give them a good run for their money,’’ she said.
‘‘I don’t see why we can’t win.’’
She credited the team culture as a source of strength going into the final.
‘‘We’ve got a good team culture — an awesome bunch of girls who really want to win and prove themselves and get better each week.’’
She thanked the team’s sponsors, who funded the team’s uniforms, food and travel costs, as the Does often played in Dunedin.
‘‘We have some quite good sponsors that pretty much get us to Dunedin,’’ Ms Clark said.
She also thanked the Cromwell Rugby Football Club, whose facilities the Does used and practised on.
This was only the second year Central Otago had a women’s team in the competition.
Captain Tiana Ngataki said the team had really progressed in that time. ‘‘We’ve definitely developed over the two years. ‘‘To be making the final both years has been really awesome.’’
Having a local team has helped players’ development, she said.
‘‘It’s been a good opportunity for the girls around Central Otago who are just wanting to get into this and learn a few things.
She loved that rugby gave her an opportunity to improve.
‘‘[The] team support — giving me the opportunity to make a goal and then achieve it.’’
Rugby gave her a chance ‘‘to be a part of something that makes me better than before’’, she said.
Numbers were increasing and Ms Ngataki hoped there would soon be enough to support teams in two grades.
‘‘There’s more this year than last year — hopefully there’s more next year.’’
She also attributed the team’s success to the team’s culture.
Knowing each other’s strengths and weakness helped them play better as a team, Ms Ngataki said.
She hoped this would ring true on Saturday.
‘‘We just need to be switched on . . . making sure we’re communicating.
‘‘If we have learnt anything from our last few practices . . . then I think we have a chance, for sure.’’