New Zealand's top sevens talent have provided an action-packed weekend of rugby as they battled it out for top honours at the TECT National Sevens.
The only thing hotter than the sun at the Tauranga Domain at the weekend was the action on the field, with sevens enthusiasts brought to their feet regularly by what was on display.
Tasman, formerly playing under the Marlborough banner, scored their first national men's title yesterday evening after beating Counties Manukau in the final 12-7. In the women's competition, the star-studded Manawatu side were crowned national champions, winning back-to-back titles after defeating Waikato 12-7.
Manawatu captain Selica Winiata said going into the tournament her side was not focused on going back-to-back, they just played what was in front of them.
"We just wanted to put out performances we were proud of and we did that throughout the two days. To get to the final is always a privilege and we might've been there seven times but you never take it for granted," Winiata said.
"It was a hard-fought final and Waikato never gave up. I think it goes to show the quality of rugby we now have in New Zealand."
Tasman captain James Lash said the strength of his side was their coach Sam Gibbens.
"He's a bit of a mastermind at the old sevens game. He puts the patterns and shapes in place and then lets us go out and express ourselves. We play as a team and our strengths flourish from there," he said.
"The nerves weren't too bad in the final, we trust ourselves and we trust our systems. It's massive [to win], sevens is a growing sport and Tasman has usually battled in that area.
"We had our three New Zealand players here this weekend helping out, running the water and stuff. That shows how much this team means to them."
On day one of the tournament, all eyes were on the defending champions during pool play - Waikato in the men's tournament and Manawatu in the women's.
Manawatu made short work of Pool B, beating Counties Manukau, Wellington and North Harbour. They won all three games by at least 20 points and looked unstoppable from the get-go.
On day two, Manawatu continued to excel, taking down a strong Counties Manukau side 21-0 in the Cup quarter finals. The other women's quarter-finals were won by Waikato, Auckland and Bay of Plenty.
In the women's Cup semifinals, Manawatu stepped up another gear, beating the previously unbeaten home side Bay of Plenty 31-5.
In the other semifinal, Waikato out-muscled Auckland to set up a mouth-watering final.
Tasman won the women's Bowl, beating North Harbour 24-5 in the final, and Canterbury won the Plate, beating Counties Manukau 24-19 in the final.
In the men's tournament, on day one, defending champs Waikato beat Southland, Otago and Auckland to finish top of Pool B and book their place in the Cup quarter-finals.
However, disaster struck for Waikato on day two as they went down 24-0 to North Harbour in the quarter-finals, the first big shock of the tournament, ensuring we would have a new winner this year.
In the other men's quarter-finals, Counties Manukau beat Southland, Wellington beat Hawke's Bay and Tasman edged past Taranaki in golden-point extra time.
The men's semifinals served up two cracking games. Counties Manukau and Wellington went toe-to-toe for the whole game and it was the 2016 and 2017 champions Counties who held on for a 12-10 win and a place in the final.
Tasman flexed their muscles in the other semifinal, cruising to a 33-7 win over North Harbour.
Manawatu won the men's Shield, beating Northland 14-7 in the final, Otago won the Bowl, beating Auckland 22-14 in the final, and Taranaki won the Plate, beating Hawke's Bay 19-5 in the final.
The home side, Bay of Plenty, finished bottom of their pool and were knocked out of the Bowl semifinals by Auckland.