An extraordinary finals day saw Waikato clinch their sixth national provincial men's sevens title.

In sweltering conditions at Rotorua's International Stadium, Waikato decisively defeated defending champions Wellington 38-19 in the Cup final, turning the tables on the capital boys after a 35-5 shellacking in Saturday's pool play.

"They've got big boys. We had to change our game plan (after the pool clash) and we adapted well in the final. We were lucky to have some superstars in Luke Masirewa, Declan O'Donnell and Isaac Te Tamaki," said Waikato skipper Wharenui Hawera, after lifting the Cup for the first time since 2010.

Waikato's Sunday form was superb, dispatching a disappointing Auckland outfit 28-14 in the quarter-final, and then blanking neighbours Bay of Plenty 33-0.


Wellington, whose sevens programme under coach Scott Waldrom looks in better shape than their 15s game, worked much harder in the playoffs, but then bolted to a 12-0 lead in the final via Tamati Samuels and Ambrose Curtis. They had no less than 73 percent of the ball in the first half, but could not make it count as Waikato ground them down, forcing errors. It was Joe Tauiwi Memorial player of the tournament Luke Masirewa - the first Waikato man to win this honour - who hauled Waikato back into the contest, scoring two fine tries, the first from 65m. Big Dylan Collier pounced on a loose lineout ball for the first of his double, while Declan O'Donnell also crossed for a double.

Waikato's victory was all the more meritorious as they did not have access to their New Zealand guns Tim Mikkelson and Joe Webber.

North Harbour's form was scratchy but they emulated their 2014 side by winning the Bowl, 26-21 over Manawatu, one of two finals that went into golden point extra time.
Counties Manukau were committed, and had just eight fit players for the Cup semifinal, where the game ended on a controversial note - a borderline dangerous tackle by Wellington's Vaea Fifita on captain Sikeli Nabou, when they were pressing hard.

Auckland was mediocre on Saturday and then simply poor today, falling 27-7 in the Plate semifinal to Northland. No one matched the industry of forwards Jeremy Innes and Mitch Karpik.

In the women's Cup competition, Auckland showed the men how it is done with a 29-14 win over two-time defending champs Manawatu. This was Auckland's first national sevens title since 2001 (there was a decade-long hiatus until 2013) and was fashioned off the back of a 24-0 first half display.

New Zealand rep Kayla McAlister was in irresistible form, scoring twice, once from 70m, in the final, and dotting down 12 times in the tournament. It was no surprise to see her take the inaugural Anna Richards Trophy for best on show.

Auckland was unstoppable in the first spell, with Portia Woodman opening the account and the skill and nous of Tyla Nathan-Wong to the fore.

Manawatu mounted a gutsy second half comeback, despite a glut of possession against them, but were stymied by two poor decisions which cost tries.


"We've had a hard time starting well, so that was one of our main goals. Our coaches have been drilling defence into us for the last six months, so hopefully we did them proud," said Auckland captain Justine Lavea.

Finals day was punctuated by 'undie runs' from those (male) players who did not score a try during the tournament.