The sooner a Hawke's Bay club wins the right to host the national club sevens tournament the better according to Napier Old Boys Marist coach Craig Gowler.
"Hawke's Bay fans will be impressed by the standard of play. It's gone up a notch from last year ... the players are bigger, stronger and faster," Gowler said, after his team bowed out of the 16-team Wavell Wakefield Middlesex County Cup nationals at Auckland's Eden club with a top seven finish today.
Without all four of the Hawke's Bay representatives from the December national inter-provincial tournament in Tauranga and several key players from last year's side which finished second at the national clubs, NOBM, were pipped 26-22 by Whangarei Old Boys Marist in the plate semifinals.
In Saturday's pool play NOBM lost 29-14 to Pakuranga, drew 19-all with Feilding and beat Awanui 26-19.
Maurice Trapp Group Napier Old Boys Marist's hopes of reaching the final for a second consecutive year were dashed when they lost 28-7 to hosts and defending champions Eden in the Championship quarterfinals.
"It was an amazing game of sevens. They had a couple of bounces go their way and that was the game," Gowler said.
Teenager Te Kahika Thompson, who left Karamu High School last year, shone in the sweeper role and Gowler predicted a promising future for him.
"He's got another year or two in our colts team for 15s but he will get a couple of games for the prems during the winter. He's going to be a key player at our club for years to come."
Experienced forward Matt Gardner impressed with his workrate and speedster Liam Edwards was outstanding in his return from a nine-month spell on the sideline with injury.
Magpies winger Michael Buckley and veteran Migao Lauano were other valuable contributors to the campaign. Whichever club wins the tournament hosts it the following year.
Unison Havelock North Blue won the Kimbolton Sevens in Manawatu on Saturday with a 17-5 win against the Hawke's Bay Fijian Invitational side in the Championship final.
The title was the ideal start to the villagers 125th anniversary year.
In their semifinal Havelock North Blue beat Ngamatapouri 7-0 and in their quarter-final Feilding Old Boys Oroua Stags 21-12.
In their pool games Havelock North Blue beat Feilding Yellow 26-12 and Te Kawau 28-7.
World Schools sevens champion Latrell Ah Kiong was outstanding in all aspects of play for the champions in the sweeper role. Another member of the world championship-winning New Zealand Schools side, Liam Udy-Johns, and Jayden Falcon were tireless at the coalface and devastating when given the opportunity to run wide.
Experienced backs Mikey Vuicakau, Adam Blake and Trent Hape also impressed.
Havelock North Black were beaten 19-5 by Feilding Yellow in the Bowl final.
Manager of the Havelock North teams and club president, Conrad Waitoa, said the tournament was ideal preparation for this Saturday's Hawke's Bay Sevens in Waipukurau.