Rugby: Auckland keen to beat jinx after winning series opener

Auckland beat Taranaki 26-5 in the final. Photo / Maru Ririnui
Auckland beat Taranaki 26-5 in the final. Photo / Maru Ririnui

Auckland sevens coach Paul Feeney is hoping to change history at next weekend's Bayleys National Sevens after his side produced an impressive effort to win the first tournament of the new year.

Auckland beat Taranaki 26-5 in the final of the Bay Engineers Suppliers Provincial Sevens, part of the New Zealand Herald Summer of Sevens, but Feeney is conscious no winning team in the seven-year history of the event has gone on to win the national sevens.

"We're hoping the curse of Blake Park doesn't strike us again," laughed Feeney after going undefeated at Mt Maunganui.

"We won here last year and lost a week later but hopefully we can keep performing as we have at the regionals and here."

The Northern Region champions beat Northland, Bay of Plenty, Counties-Manukau, Wellington and Taranaki, the reigning national sevens champions, on their way to the title with an all-round display.

Varasiko Duisokosoko (two), Akira Ioane and veteran Orene Ai'i scored tries for Auckland in the final.

"We don't have a lot of stars, however we have a lot of guys who play well in their positions and there were many standouts," said Feeney. "Akira really put his hand up and Kelly Meafua, who we found playing for Otahuhu in the Auckland Club Sevens, was physical and they both really impressed me.

"Duisokosoko is a great little guy, super fit and fast, and another who we found in the Club Sevens a year ago," he added.

Ioane, 18 and in his first year out of Auckland Grammar School, caught the eye of Sir Gordon Tietjens, who named him in his tournament team.

Meafua, George Tilsley (Manawatu), Jono Malo and Joe Webber (both Waikato) and the Northland duo of Warren Dunn and Jone Macilai, a Fijian formerly of the Red Rock club, were also selected by the New Zealand coach.

"There were a number of young players who impressed and now the challenge for them is to back it up next weekend at the Bayleys National Sevens," said Tietjens.

Manawatu demolished Auckland 40-5 to win the women's title.

- NZ Herald

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