Waikite look the team to beat in the Bay of Plenty Women's Club Rugby Competition after they defended their Baywide Pre-Season title.

The Rotorua side took out a tightly fought final 12-7 on Sunday, over a young and determined Rangiuru side, at Rotoiti.

Waikite were made to fight for the crown, in a quick-fire 30-minute final, after they had previously sailed through the pool rounds beating Western Bays Arataki 24-5 and demolishing Te Whanau Apanui from Eastern Bay.

Captain Eliza Stevens, 38, was pleased with the performance as Rangiuru, from the Western Bay, are the 'new kids on the block' - this being the first year they will join the other seven teams in the competition.


She believed that her side's experience in final situations was the key to success on Sunday.

"We were very wary of Rangiuru because they are the unknown team. I knew that they would be a very fit and strong team and they proved to be very tough opposition," said the back.

"I was glad they put us under pressure though, because we hadn't been challenged all day, but our experience really showed and we have found ourselves in final situations over the last four years so we were able to keep our nerve.

"We worked our combinations well, stuck to the game plan and the balance was just right between the forward and back line. We can use this as a great stepping stone for the new season."

The competition kicks off this Sunday with Waikite and Rangiuru joining the returning six teams - Te Whanau Apanui, Waimana, Rotoiti, Arataki, Tauranga Sports and Tokoroa.

Over the coming months the women will battle it out in a seven-week round robin competition, with an additional two weeks of semifinals with the finals on July 10.

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Waikite, who kick off their season against Rotoiti, will bid to retain the crown but have the added pressure of remaining unbeaten since the 2014 season.

Stevens, who has captained the side for five seasons, admitted to "feeling the pressure" and knows they must "up their game" if they are to come out on top once again.

"We all know that our head is on the chopping block. It's a little bit scary because all the other sides want to come and knock us off our perch," she said.

"But as a side we all know that we need to step it up, and we are hungry for this. We have a brilliant core group of experienced players in the side who will need to be on top form every game and we have taken some different approaches leading up to the beginning of this season which I hope pay off.

"I'm not going to pick out any of the other teams or specific games because all the sides will be strong this year. It looks set to be a great season."

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union media and marketing representative Amanda Thompson said Waikite were the team to beat "but they will definitely have lots of teams challenging them".

"What's fantastic is there has been an influx of young women coming into the sport from last year and I hope this keeps on continuing."

- Waikite kick off at 1pm against Rotoiti on Sunday at Emery Park.