Whanganui High School has three new national champions as Emma Rainey, Joanne Bell and Rebecca Baker were part of the successful Central team at the Vantage Under-18 National Regional Hockey Tournament in Whangarei.

Central beat Canterbury 4-1 in the final on Saturday afternoon, with Rainey, 17, later being named the MVP of the tournament.

Unfortunately, the boys team with Ryan Gray, Jordan Cohen and Patrick Madder were not able to make it a double, as they were well beaten 6-0 by a very strong Canterbury team in the final.

Central Hockey community manager Kathy Norman said the side nonethless deserved a lot of credit.


"To put it in perspective, the girls were still medallists last year and went one better to get the gold.

"The boys were only fourth last year, and ended up as silver medallists, so we're rapted with both really."

Top qualifier from Pool B, the Central girls comfortably won their cross-pool games with North Harbour (4-1) and Auckland (4-0).

Although Harbour scored first, goalkeeper Bell, 17, kept a clean sheet from that point, as Central put the game away with back-to-back goals in the 56th minute.

Central scored twice in the first quarter against Auckland, then pulled away with goals in the third and fourth quarters.

Facing Canterbury in the final on Saturday afternoon, both teams scored in the second quarter, but Central put the matter to rest with three goals in the space of six minutes in the third quarter, although Rainey, 17 picked up a green card with only three minutes remaining.

The team scored 23 goals during the tournament, with Olivia Shannon the most prolific with five, followed by Megan Phillips with four.

Baker, 15, scored in the opening 6-1 win over Northland.

The Central boys just scrapped through Pool A on a goal differential from Midlands, but then picked up steam by beating North Harbour 1-0 and Capital 5-2 to once again make the final.

North Harbour did not help their chances with three green cards and then a yellow, as Central defended their sole goal in the second quarter by captain and future tournament MVP Harrison Lawson.

In an eventual game with Capital, Central scored two goals each in the first and third quarters, while picking up two green cards and a yellow to Palmerston North Boys High's Thomas Walshe, who played senior representative cricket for Wanganui last summer.

Capital picked up four green cards of their own, with their second goal right at the end of the game coming too late.

That put Central into the Saturday final in a rematch with Canterbury, who had beaten them 2-0 during the pool stages.

This time, the Cantabrians made no chase of it, scoring three goals in the first two quarters, and then blowing out the scoreline over their tiring opposition at the death with three more goals across the 54th and 55th minutes.

Gray and Cohen, both 17, were regular starters across the tournament, with Gray scoring during the 1-1 draw with Midlands, which was lost on penalty shoot out.

Madder, 15, got to make short cameos off the bench in each game, but will be a player of the future with lots more opportunities to come back to this tournament.