Sevens: Nationals next after great run

By Cameron Leslie

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Northland ITM Cup hooker Matt Moulds has been given the tick of approval by sevens coach Peter Nock after a strong showing at the Northern Regional Sevens Qualifier over the weekend. Photo/Ron Burgin
Northland ITM Cup hooker Matt Moulds has been given the tick of approval by sevens coach Peter Nock after a strong showing at the Northern Regional Sevens Qualifier over the weekend. Photo/Ron Burgin

Now is the hour for the Northland sevens team. After finishing second at the regional qualifying competition, Northland is getting a reputation for being a top sevens franchise.

Northland were near unstoppable as they made the cut to play in the national sevens competition next month, which was a primary goal.

Coach Peter Nock was obviously happy with his side's form over the weekend, saying the squad was well ahead of where they were last year.

"We're so far ahead of where we were this time last year it's not funny," he said, acknowledging that at the same competition last year Northland only just qualified.

"[From here though], we need to build into nationals. The culture is good and the boys want to work hard, they've got that belief that they can do something special.

"It's exciting."

While it was a satisfying tournament for Nock and co, Nock commented that he was disappointed to finish with a 31-nil loss to Auckland in the final.

"It always hurts to lose a final by 31 points, especially after beating them earlier in the day. They got up a bit more than we did at the end of the day."

Nock added that the scoreline does not reflect the game, after Auckland only led 7-nil at half time and eight minutes into the second half the score was only 14-nil.

To begin the tournament, Northland beat Auckland 17-12 as they finished pool play undefeated after beating North Harbour [19-12] and a Waikato Harlequins team [31-19].

Given the tick of approval by Nock was youngster Jack Goodhue, who is a Northlander studying at Auckland's Mt Albert Grammar.

"He's a quality player, he stood up against Auckland in the first game. To be fair to him, he played every minute of the day ... he had a great tournament."

Also given sign-off were ITM Cup players Whiria Meltzer, Jone Macilai, Matt Moulds and captain Warren Dunn.

"Warren Dunn just leads from the front, he scores a number of tries from breaking tackles. Matt Moulds [also], if he gets the ball five metres out there's no stopping him - to have a player like him with the mobility and size he has is an asset."

Manager Kyal Collins said this sevens team was really starting to make ripples around New Zealand, adding that he has heard people complaining about being in the same pool as them.

"We've got other provinces saying they don't want to be in our pool," he said. "I don't think we've ever had that. People are saying 'we're in a pool with Auckland and Northland, how are we meant to qualify?"'

Nock concluded that a contributing factor to this side's success is the willingness of the Northland Rugby Union to believe in them and send them overseas for experience.

Northland now play a friendly against Auckland before heading to the Mount Maunganui Sevens Competition in early January, before the national competition on January 11.

- Northern Advocate

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