MAC One head coach Anthony Morley reckoned some broken hearts were on the mend when his side won the Napier Old Boys Marist Invitation Sevens tournament at Park Island on Saturday.
"Our hearts were broken when we were pipped 31-24 by NOBM on the last play of the final last year. We owed it to ourselves to go one step better this year and we did ... that's our first sevens title," Morley said.
His team had just pipped Hawke's Bay champions, Hawke's Bay Fijians One, 21-14 in the final of the fourth edition of the NOBM tournament which attracted 10 senior men's teams and eight colts sides.
MAC One were unbeaten and earlier in the day beat Hastings Rugby and Sports 31-5, Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports 17-12, Bridge Pa 26-5 and Hawke's Bay Fijians Two 35-5 to secure their berth in the final.
"It was good to get the Hawke's Bay Fijians One side back as they pipped us in the quarter-finals of an Auckland tournament two weeks ago. We were leading 19-14 with a minute to go when we had a player yellow carded and they capitalised," Morley recalled.
Midfielder Siave Togoiu was outstanding for MAC throughout the day and scored two tries in the final. He finished the tournament with nine tries and a conversion from five games.
"It feels good to get them back for that Auckland loss," Togoiu, 20, said afterwards.
Earlier this year he was part of the Warriors NRL training squad alongside Magpies outside back Neria Fomai. He spent the winter playing rugby league for the Richmond Rovers club in Auckland and hooked up with the MAC sevens team through his older brother Alatasi Tupou.
"I'll finish the summer with MAC before I get back into my league. I'm looking forward to the national club sevens in Wellington on February 7 and 8 and then the Hawke's Bay Sevens in Waipukurau the following weekend," Togoiu said.
A product of Southern Cross Campus College in Māngere, Togoiu, was one of the stars of the inaugural World Schools Sevens Championship in Auckland in 2017 after being called into the Samoa side.
Former Samoa Sevens representatives Tom Iosefo and Fa'alemiga Selesele were others to shine for MAC during their march to the first prize of $2500.
Morley pointed out his team should be stronger for the Wellington nationals as Magpies squad members Solomone Funaki and Johnny Ika, who were attending a family reunion in Tonga at the weekend, will both be available.
Former Magpies winger Mikey Vuicakau, who played for the Hawke's Bay Fijians One side, agreed the final could have gone either way. His team will play in another Auckland tournament before attempting to retain their Hawke's Bay title in Waipukurau.
Epeli Delasau, who scored both of the Fijians' tries in the final, joined Ben Fili, Joeli Suka and Ritchie Tuivanuavou as their best players.
They ended hosts Napier Old Boys Marist's hopes of a fourth consecutive title with a 28-14 victory, recovered from a 19-7 halftime deficit to beat Havelock North 21-19, beat MAC Two 31-5 and Napier Technical 29-5 on their way to the final.
Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports beat NOBM 21-15 in the playoff for third.
The Pirate side included Chiefs outside back Bailyn Sullivan and his younger brother Zarn, an Auckland under-19 representative this year, who were both home for the weekend for Bailyn's 21st and 2018 Napier Boys' High School first XV centre Leo Thompson who was home from Wellington for the weekend.
NOBM forward Chris Johnston, who missed the winter 15s season through suspension, impressed with his work rate for the hosts throughout the day.
"CJ definitely returned in style. One would have thought he had been playing all year," NOBM club chairman Terry Gittings said.
Feilding High School retained their colts title with a 34-0 victory over Lindisfarne College in their final. Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports One beat Havelock North 21-12 in the colts playoff for third.