Northland sevens players Whiria Meltzer, Josh Browne and Ben Berridge came agonisingly close to achieving what they set out to do at the Heineken Hottest Sevens competition.
Defending champions, and reigning champs for the past three years, the SRC Borneo Eagles were denied a fourth consecutive Croc Cup title after going down 36-19, six tries to three, to Auckland in the final on Sunday.
The Eagles began ominously, winning all three of their games on Saturday, over Canberra Ozboks 28-19, ICONZ Rugby 38-10, and Veitacini 42-0; and began Sunday likewise by beating the young Australian Thunderbolts 12-5 to advance into the Croc Cup semifinals where they beat the Tsunami Wavewearers 17-0. Auckland made the final by beating Team Stallions, a local team with a distinct Kiwi flavour, in the other semifinal.
With a total prize pool of $65,000 the Heineken Hottest 7s in Darwin is regarded is the richest sevens tournament in the Southern Hemisphere and was held over Australia Day weekend, January 26 and 27.
As well as the triple back-to-back champion side, the Borneo Sea Eagles (hailing from the Sandakan Rugby Club in Malaysia) and Papua New Guinea, the international line-up also featured the Aussie Thunderbolts and eventual winners Auckland.