Waikato and Manawatu have domestic bragging rights for the next year after winning the men's and women's national sevens titles respectively.

There was a plethora of talent on display throughout the two-day tournament at Rotorua International Stadium this weekend and both Cup winners were made to work for it.

In the men's tournament, Waikato, led by former All Black Zac Guilford, were placed in the 'pool of death' with two of the tournament favourites Counties Manukau and Taranaki.

They drew their first game, with Taranaki, 12-all, before beating Counties Manukau 19-12. A 45-5 win over Wanganui in their last pool game ensured they finished top of their pool to book a quarter-final showdown with Auckland.

Advertisement
Waikato won the men's cup final at the Bayleys National Sevens at the Rotorua International Stadium. Photo/ Ben Fraser
Waikato won the men's cup final at the Bayleys National Sevens at the Rotorua International Stadium. Photo/ Ben Fraser

Waikato won that one convincingly 35-7, to move on to the semi-finals against Wellington. They were untroubled once again in the semi-final, winning 22-5.

They beat Tasman 21-17 in a hard fought final, during which both sides played with a positive spirit which summed up the tournament as a whole.

Tasman opened the scoring in the first minute, with a try to one of the players of the tournament co-captain James Lash.

Waikato hit back with tries to Sevu Reece, who showed blistering speed as he raced through a gap on halfway, and Tyler Campbell to lead 14-5 at halftime.

Manawatu have won the women's cup final at the Bayleys National Sevens at the Rotorua International Stadium. Photo/Ben Fraser
Manawatu have won the women's cup final at the Bayleys National Sevens at the Rotorua International Stadium. Photo/Ben Fraser

Tasman mounted a comeback in the second half with a try to Glen Ballam in the right-hand corner, to reduce the deficit to 14-12.

Waikato extended their lead once again, however, after a brilliant break down the right-hand side by Jordan Bunce, who put Sayarvat Srisawat over with a pass inside to make it 21-12.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
15 Jan, 2018 7:04am
4 minutes to read

Tasman scored in the dying minutes but it was not enough as Waikato held on for the win.

Waikato's Bunce was named men's player of the tournament.

The Manawatu women were also drawn in a tough pool, which included Wellington and the hosts Bay of Plenty.

They beat North Harbour 38-0 in their opening game before a crucial 38-5 win over Wellington.

They lost in the last minute to Bay of Plenty, 19-12, in their third game, but still went through top of the pool on points difference.

In the semi-final Manawatu had to dig deep once again to beat Auckland 14-12. Auckland led for most of the game but Manawatu captain Selica Winiata scored under the posts and converted her own try in the dying minutes to snatch the win. In the other semi-final Waikato beat Counties Manukau 26-0 to ensure two teams in hot form would contest the title.

In the final Manawatu opened the scoring through Rhiarna Ferris, it was the first points Waikato had conceded on day two. Waikato hit straight back with a try to Stacey Waaka.

Manawatu ensured they took a lead into halftime with a try Janna Vaughan, who showed great strength to go over in the corner.

Waikato started the second half strongly. Chyna Hohepa scored off the back of a brilliant offload from Shakira Baker, before Ariana Bayler added another after some patient build-up play, to take a 15-12 lead.

Manawatu never gave up and with seconds left on the clock they shifted the ball left, inside the Waikato 22, and Lauren Balsillie used her pace to score the match-winner in the corner.

Waikato's Tenika Willison was named women's player of the tournament.