The Ngamatapouri Green squad held off a late flourish by Kaierau Gold to reclaim their place as the Wanganui Club Sevens supreme side with their club's third championship, 33-15 in the final at the Kaierau Country Club this afternoon.
However, the best team at the tournament were already packing up their van as the playoff got underway, after Feilding High School blitzed through the adult sides in what became a slightly farcical Pool 2, given the schoolboys were ineligible to win the tournament.
Coached by former WRFU development officer Justin Lock, Feilding High were using the WRFU Sevens as warmup for the Condor Sevens, and accounted for Pirates and Kaierau Maroon by comfortable margins, before also narrowly beating eventual champions Ngamatapouri Green 17-12.
Ngamatapouri Green still ended up in the championship final with Pool 1's undefeated side Kaierau Gold, with Green having made it through on points differential despite a 1-2 record after a controversial start to the day.
The top team of their two squads at the tournament, Ngamatapouri Green had looked to use two players from the Marist club in their lineup, which already included imported Wanganui representative players Troy Brown (Ruapehu) and Vereniki Tikoisolomone (Border).
However, Border and Ruapehu did not enter the tournament whereas Marist did – their squad being beaten in all four of their Pool 1 games.
The inclusion of the ineligible Marist players was only discovered after Ngamatapouri Green had smashed Kaierau Maroon 46-0 in their opening match, and as a result, the win was overturned and Maroon received a default victory.
Undefeated Feilding High were given an extra game in what was officially supposed to be the playoff for third, and they proved a further point by hammering the young Taihape team 34-0, after Taihape had finished runnerup to Kaierau Gold in Pool 1.
Despite carrying on with two less players, Ngamatapouri Green were plenty stacked with talent for the final, led by their sevens specialists in Timoci 'Jim' Seruwalu and Samu Kubunavanua, along with Brown, Tikoisolomone and goal-kicking captain Sheldon Parkinga-Manhire.
Kaierau Gold had a handy lineup as well, as captain Cameron Davies led a team with fellow Wanganui Heartland representatives in Karl Pascoe, Ranato Tikoisolomone (Border), and Joe Edwards, along with the talented Blair Osborne returning to his home club and NZ Fiji Schools Sevens wider squad member Semi Vodosese.
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But after a back-and-forth opening with a couple of penalties, Ngamatapouri struck first as Parkinga-Manhire got an offload away in the tackle, and Seruwalu stepped out of a grab at his leg to dash free, before holding off a diving Pascoe to run under the posts for 7-0.
Kaierau had their chances from an Osborne grubber kick, then a Vodosese flick-pass in space, but lost ball cost them and when Pascoe questioned a fumble call from the referee, he was sinbinned for back chat.
Ngamatapouri exploited their overlap as Brown worked wide with Vereniki Tikoisolomone, before Kubunavanua moved back to the centre and Seruwalu again skipped out of a tackle at the break down to run to the posts.
Another promising Kaierau break was ended by lost ball from a low pass with Vodosese taking a knock to his leg – the result of which as when Ngamatapouri fired the ball wide, Tikoisolomone had an open 55m to run to the corner flag with the limping defender unable to get across in time.
Down 19-0 at halftime as Pascoe came back, Kaierau Gold need to score first after the break, but a loose ball at the break down was snatched up by Epeli Delasau to take off for the posts and a try he quickly converted.
Ngamatapouri got their kickoffs pinpoint for most of the match, winning another one, and Seruwalu threw a looping pass wide to Brown, who linked with Tikoisolomone to step back inside and take off for the posts – Parkinga-Manhire slotting a third conversion.
The die was cast at 33-0, but Kaierau finished strong after Seruwalu was sinbinned for a high tackle and both teams began running on their bench players, with Kaierau's regular representative winger CJ Stowers taking the field.
Vodosese scored immediately after Seruwalu's departure as he fended his way through the defensive line and dashed 50m to the posts, although unlike Parkinga-Manhire, Kaierau would find their drop kick conversions difficult in the wind.
After Ngamatapouri were pinged for not releasing, Pascoe took a quick tap and probed for an opening, and after good cleanout by the support players, the ball was freed for Stowers to sprint through the overlap and score.
Seruwalu returned with the rest of Ngamatapouri's starting lineup subbed, as Kaierau defended their tryline and then got their third five-pointer after Stowers again went wide and pulled the in-and-out swerve to beat the cover and score on fulltime.
Kaierau Gold bt Marist 31-0; Taihape bt Metro 20-16; Taihape bt Marist 12-7; Ngamatapouri Black bt Metro 34-5; Ngamatapouri Black bt Marist 38-17; Kaierau Gold bt Taihape 24-12; Kaierau Gold bt Ngamatapouri Black 26-10; Metro bt Marist 12-5; Kaierau Gold bt Metro 33-7; Taihape bt Ngamatapouri Black 19-7.
Pool 2: Kaierau Maroon bt Ngamatapouri Green by default; Feilding High bt Pirates 21-12; Feilding High bt Kaierau Maroon 33-0; Ngamatapouri Green bt Pirates 22-7; Feilding High bt Ngamatapouri Green 17-12; Pirates bt Kaierau Maroon 19-10;
Playoff pool runnersup: Feilding High bt Taihape 34-0.
Final: Ngamatapouri Green bt Kaierau Gold 33-15. HT: 19-0.
Women: Metro White bt Metro Black.