Jonathan Ruru and Andrew Gardner were prominent as Taradale did the best of the Hawke's Bay teams at the annual Mount Maunganui Sevens club tournament yesterday.
Taradale reached the plate final where they lost 28-17 to North Harbour's Glenfield. In their plate semifinal Taradale walloped Hamilton Old Boys 22-5.
Gardner, who had been a Magpies training squad member in recent seasons, was a busy forward for the maroons. Ruru, a member of the Hawke's Bay under-20 side who won their Hurricanes competition last year, shone in the pivot role.
This was his final outing for Taradale as he will return to the Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports Club for 15-a-side play this season to fill the halfback role vacated by his older brother, former Magpie Michael Ruru, who moved to Perth last year.
Against Mount Maunganui Taradale led until the final seconds when the hosts scored a match-winning try. Against Glenfield the Dan Rodden-coached Taradale trailed 21-5 at halftime before closing the gap to 21-17.
Taradale had earlier beaten the only other Hawke's Bay team at the tournament, RDCL Havelock North, 17-12 in the plate quarter-finals after losing their only pool game 21-14 to Mount Maunganui One.
Havelock North manager Conrad Waitoa said it was a tough day at the office for the 13-time Hawke's Bay Sevens champions. In their pool games Havelock North lost 26-14 to Tauranga Sports before beating Leamington of Waikato 31-5.
With experienced campaigners Isaac Paewai, Adam Bradey and Jacob Kennedy unavailable for Havelock and Gillies Kaka and Trinity Spooner-Neera in camp with the New Zealand team promoted Colts players, Sam McNicol, Johnny Bristol and Jack Facer impressed in their first outing with the senior side. McNicol will be a Year 13 student at Napier Boys' High School this year and former Karamu High School student Facer is home on holiday from his university commitments.
Outstanding Otago Sevens player and former Magpies squad member Brad Weber played for Havelock North and his brother Sam was inspirational for Taradale.
Havelock North will play at the Greytown Sevens in Wairarapa on February 9 and on February 16 will aim for a fourth consecutive Hawke's Bay title in Waipukurau.