It had been considered a tough row to hoe and so it proved for the Wanganui Sevens team at the Central 7's tournament in Levin on Saturday.
Wairarapa Bush got revenge for being beaten in the Plate Final last year with a 35-7 shut down of a tired Wanganui in the playoff at Playford Park to snatch the fifth and last spot for the TECT National Sevens in Tauranga on December 15-16.
The Masterton side had gone straight to the Plate final after finishing third in the larger Pool B, while Wanganui played an extra sudden death playoff against Horowhenua Kapiti, winning 29-7, after being beaten by both Wellington and Hawke's Bay in Pool A.
Playing the tournament's opening game against Wellington in very windy conditions, Wanganui struggled to move the ball out of their half in the early exchanges.
Playmakers Grayson Tihema, Tyler Rogers-Holden and Dane Whale tried to spark something midfield, but Wellington kept their line and eventually Whale was isolated and the ball turned over, with speedster Adam Simpson snatching a pass that Wanganui's Samu Kubunavanua partially deflected to run in and score.
Wanganui stopped the next raid near their line and Tihema made a good run back to halfway, but lost the ball in contact.
From the scrum win, Wellington worked swiftly with speedy turnover from rucks and Simpson trotted to the posts for his second with 90 seconds left in the half.
Although Wanganui could not match Wellington for speed, while they struggled with their lineout, they did work hard as a team, with a nice sequence of offloads getting Rogers-Holden free down the blindside.
Wanganui then moved the ball back and forth in Wellington's 22m, having to absorb some hard tackles, yet captain Matt Ashworth imposed himself in the ruck to maintain possession and after Kubunavanua and Whale had a probe, the ball went out to import Brent Landers to step inside and run under the posts after three minutes of injury time.
Getting the wind and only trailing 12-7, Wanganui had a good chance when Whale made an intercept in Wellington's half, but mistakes began creeping back into their game as import Ryan Karatau fumbled a long pass.
Wellington's dangerman Losi Filipo then broke away with defender Clive Stowers chasing, and although his inside pass was dropped, Wanganui couldn't capitalise as Kameli Kuruyabaki went away from his support and then made a high pass that couldn't be hauled in.
Filipo then got penalised for holding after another powerful surge, but Wanganui again missed their lineout and the motoring Simpson went wide and around Kuruyabaki to run 50m under the posts.
Wellington's kickoff was not 10m in the breeze, but again a Wanganui mistake turned over the ball, and although they got it back from a Wellington fumble, a good dash by Kuruyabaki which was carried on by Stowers saw Wanganui penalised for holding in sight of the tryline with time up.
While Wanganui could have taken advantage of Wellington's lapses, Hawke's Bay gave them no quarter in a 36-0 demolition in the second match just over an hour later.
Siosaia Paese sprinted away just after the kickoff to score a 70m try, and after Kubunavanua's offload went down, Hawke's Bay's Trent Hape was off to make it 10-0 in less than three minutes.
Hawke's Bay forced another turnover in Wanganui's half, and although the Butcher's Boys got a scrum feed, eagle-eyed Tamati Samuels pounced to force a fumble and kick the ball through to score.
Damien Scott then dotted down after his team mates kicked the ball across field as a pass, rather than try to pick it up, with Wanganui out of it at 22-0 at halftime.
Hayden Hann kept the momentum going by just palming off a defender to run through and score the opening try of the second half.
Wanganui managed to force a turnover on defence, but Rogers-Holden got caught with the ball, and despite Hawke's Bay losing possession on attack, they still had positional advantage so when the turnover came, Tyrone Dodd-Edwards was away.
Stowers had a late chance at consolation points, but his high pass went out on fulltime.
And so to the Plate semifinals to face a likewise winless Horowhenua Kapiti on the No2 field, and Wanganui did the business with their 22-point victory.
That kept alive the hopes of going to Tauranga, but they met a Wairarapa Bush team with some serious Heartland talent in Epeli Rayaqayaqa, speedster Soli Malatai, and the veterans Inia Katia and James Goodger.
Wairarapa Bush forced a turnover from the kickoff and after Malatai had a crack, the ball came back to Katia, who powered over in two tackles.
Kickoffs and lineouts were proving a nightmare for Wanganui.
Although they survived the former by forcing a turnover after losing the ball and clearing it, and Wairarapa Bush were tackled out during their counterattack, Wanganui could not control the lineout ball with their opposition coming through and Rayaqayaqa getting the try.
After a good diving ankle tap stopped Wairarapa Bush scoring in the corner, Kuruyabaki's quick throw-in was nowhere near a Wanganui player and gifted another seven points for a 21-0 halftime score.
Into the second half and Wanganui got a penalty in their dangerzone, but promptly lost the ball as Jack Eschenbach ran it back to the tryline to virtually wrap the game up at 28-0.
A series of penalties still had Wairarapa Bush close enough to get their fifth seven pointer, and it was only when Goodger went down with an injured arm that there was a gap in the line for Wanganui to exploit.
Stowers made a good run and earned a penalty, and then after the quick tap, Tihema took off and ran through an open back field to score what proved a scant consolation.
The Central 7's championship final was won by Wellington, who defeated Hawke's Bay 14-7 in the final.
Pool A: Wanganui lost to Wellington 19-7; Wanganui lost to Hawke's Bay 36-0.
Plate Semifinal: Wanganui beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 29-7.
Plate Final: Wanganui lost to Wairarapa Bush 35-7.