Rotorua Girls' High School are proving to be an unstoppable force in the Baywide Girls' First XV rugby competition.
On Saturday, they beat Te Wharekura o Mauao 44-20 in the final in Whakatāne to round out an unbeaten season and claim the title for the second consecutive year.
That scoreline was the closest anyone got to them in a season during which they scored points for fun and demolished every obstacle put in front of them.
Team manager Carolyn Katu said last year when they won the title, the team was playing for their long-time fitness coach, Mark Edmonds, affectionately known as koro Mark, who died in June that year.
This year they spoke about playing for each other and she was proud of the fact they proved the first title was not a one-off.
"It was a tremendous season, going through unbeaten, and winning the final on Saturday was the icing on top. Defensively they have just been amazing."
The majority of the players in the team are Year 11 and came through the development grade.
"It's a relatively young team. We have a development team and a lot of these girls have come through that and made their way into first XV. They've gelled really well as a team.
"To play in the first XV can be quite daunting so having a development grade gives our juniors, who are new to rugby, an opportunity to play without the pressure of the first XV. Having said that, we had a lot of girls who started in development and that same season came up to cover injuries - if we didn't have that we would definitely have folded throughout the season."
There are three Year 13 players in the team, who will depart at the end of the year, Kataraina Rauwhero, Jasmine Hati and Wairua Lloyd.
Rauwhero was named player of the day in the final.
"We're confident that we have good depth but, having said that, the final was the toughest game we've had all season. [Te Wharekura o Mauao] are coming along well."
This is the third year the first XV has been coached by Jimi McLean, who also coaches the Baywide Premier Women's champions, Rangiuru.
"He understands the game and he can coach the girls. They're a special breed, girls, and you have to have the right personality to be able to gel with them as well as impart skills and knowledge. He doesn't dumb it down for them but he does sort of give it in chunks they can understand.
"Under Jimi they have really good structure. Other coaches have come up and said that," Katu said.
It was a tremendous season, going through unbeaten, and winning the final on Saturday was the icing on top. Defensively they have just been amazing.
She said rugby was a good outlet for the girls to complement their academic performance and it was good to have another option for those not interested in other sports.
"We try to instil in them that to be great on the field, you've also got to be great off the field. At the end of the day they're here for academic purposes but sport is the cherry on top, it makes school fun.
"A lot of these girls, they're not netballers, they're not basketballers. If we didn't have rugby for them they might not have a place to belong in school. I think that's why they've gelled so well - for them rugby is their sense of belonging in our school."
The Rotorua Girls' first XV's focus now switches to New Zealand First XV Top Four qualification. On Saturday they play New Plymouth Girls' High School in the Chiefs region semifinals.
Baywide Secondary School Finals Results
Division Three First XV Final:
Trident High School 26, Bethlehem College 7
15 Championship Final:
Te Puke High School 62, Rotorua Boys' High School 15
Girls' First XV Final:
Rotorua Girls' High School 44, Te Wharekura o Mauao 20
Whakatāne High School 20, Tauhara College 19
Division One First XV Final:
Trident High School 30, John Paul College 20