Kaierau A rose to the occasion to win their club's second Settler's Honey Wanganui Club Sevens title by hanging on 10-7 against two-time champions Ngamatapouri in the final at Marton Park on Saturday.
The win was one of a number of upsets during the day, as Ratana's strong showing in pool play moved three-time runnersup Taihape over to the other side of the semifinal equation for the matchup with undefeated Ngamatapouri.
Ratana had shocked Taihape 15-5 in their first game, and then comfortably accounted for Border and Kaierau B in the other matchups.
Kaierau A had given Ngamatapouri a push in pool play and were disappointed to lose 12-5 despite having the better of territory.
In the semifinals, Taihape and Ngamatapouri were deadlocked at fulltime, and in extra time a strong run and offload by Timoci Seruwalu got them the winning try.
Kaierau A clicked when it counted to end Ratana's day 28-10.
In cold conditions, Kaierau took first use of the strong wind against the favourites, who were coming off a tougher semifinal than the previous tournaments, with both sides making some key handling errors and giving away penalties.
After a Ngamatapouri spill inside their 30m, Kaierau's Karl Pascoe got the ball from the scrum win and fended off his man to run the outside and score.
A Serwalu burst brought Ngamatapouri onto the attack, but they turned over possession, and although Kaierau initially couldn't advance through trying risky bounce passes in the face of some hard defence, Ethan Robinson found the gap.
The half step and fend Robinson through the line and dashing away, and although the defence caught up to him five metres out, he slipped the dive tackle to score under the posts.
Kaierau couldn't convert either try and were close to putting the game out of reach on halftime when Irishman Shandon Scott snatched an intercept from a Ngamatapouri overhead pass in their own 22m and went to score, but the try was disallowed on a touch judge call from an earlier infringement.
The defending champions struck back after halftime as big Aporosa Toroca, cut through the midfield and sprinted away to the posts, with Isireli Baleitavuku adding the extras.
Kaierau spread the ball and a Pascoe chip kick brought them right to the line, where Ngamatapouri were twice penalised in stopping the try, but their defence held as Kaierau tapped it and were caught for not releasing in the tackle.
Seruwalu appeared to have tied the scores when he broke through and jogged to the tryline, but Kaierau caught him right at the paint and got the penalty for holding.
Kaierau were now trapped in their half going against the breeze, trying to run it back, but Ngamatapouri would get turnovers and their big scrum would push Kaierau up off their feeds.
However, the smaller defenders held up Ngamatapouri's ball runners by an arm, bootlace, or whatever they could get their hands on.
Representative hooker Jack Yarrall came on and showed his scrummaging expertise as Kaierau pressured Ngamatapouri into a fumble at their forward's feet and that was the ball game.
"The boys have been training hard, a couple of weeks. All the hard work paid off," said player/coach Osea Tarogi.
"Everyone gave it their all, last game. We knew they were going to come out hard too."
New Wanganui representative coach Ace Malo also came off the bench for his Kaierau team in the second half of the final.
He will announce his training squad this week.
In the women's provincial competition, favourites Wellington emerged with the title, but not without being pushed to the limit by defending champions Manawatu.
Although seeded third, Manawatu drew 12-12 with Wellington in pool play and comfortably accounted for second seed Hawke's Bay 26-10, while Wellington beat them 33-0.
In the final, Manawatu would rue losing the ball twice right on the tryline in their 12-7 loss.
After the first spill, following a kick and chase, Wellington ran it from their line and hit the pass at halfway to score, and then quick hands in the midfield again saw them through for a converted try and handy lead when turning to face the wind.
Manawatu attacked the line and got a penalty, but from the quick tap they lost control going over the chalk.
Wellington looked to clear but lost the ball, and Manawatu stepped through to finally get a converted try under the posts.
However, they would get no closer with both teams spilling possession in between the 22m lines for Wellington to hang on for the win.
Wanganui, a fresh squad made up of schoolgirls and a handful of experienced players, got literal 'on the job training', as coming in cold they were competitive in losses to Manawatu (26-7) and Hawkes Bay (24-15) before running out of legs against Wellington (41-0).
Pool A: Pirates bt Marton 17-5; Ngamatapouri bt Kaierau A 12-5; Ngamatapouri bt Marton 31-7; Kaierau A bt Pirates 17-0; Ngamatapouri bt Pirates 19-0; Kaierau A bt Marton 24-7
Pool B: Border bt Kaierau B 29-0; Ratana bt Taihape 15-5; Taihape bt Kaierau B 36-7; Ratana bt Border 32-5; Taihape bt Border 22-0; Ratana bt Kaierau B 33-0.
Semifinals: Ngamatapouri bt Taihape 22-17 (extra time); Kaierau A bt Ratana 28-10.
Playoffs: Pirates bt Border 24-14; Marton bt Kaierau B 24-14.
Final: Kaierau A bt Ngamatapouri 10-7.
Women's Provincial: Wellington bt Hawkes Bay 33-0; Manawatu bt Wanganui 26-7; Hawkes Bay bt Wanganui 24-15; Manawatu drew with Wellington 12-12; Manawatu bt Hawke's Bay 26-10; Wellington bt Wanganui 41-0.
Final: Wellington bt Manawatu 12-7.