Two wins over the home side Horowhenua-Kapiti weren't enough to qualify the Wanganui team for the TECT National Sevens after a seventh-placed finish at the Central Regions tournament in Levin on Saturday.
In stifling hot conditions, Wanganui weren't a match for their Mitre 10 Cup union opponents Hawke's Bay and Taranaki, losing 36-0 and 45-0 shut outs in pool play, but they did beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 26-14 to take some confidence into the consolation playoffs.
The winner of the Plate final gets the fifth and final spot for the nationals in Tauranga, but Wanganui would not make it there following a narrow 19-17 semifinal loss to Poverty Bay, who were returning to sevens after pulling out of the Central tournament last year.
Poverty Bay went on to lose the Plate final 22-19 to Wairarapa Bush, who qualified for nationals for the second season in a row, with Wanganui last qualifying the year before that.
Wanganui rematched Horowhenua-Kapiti in the playoff for seventh, winning 31-19.
In the Championship final, Wellington emerged as comfortable 26-5 winners over Taranaki to win the Central Regions tournament for the third year in a row.
After their opening 36-0 loss to Hawke's Bay, Wanganui performed well in their 26-14 win over Horowhenua-Kapiti, with Kody Edwards scoring a hat trick of tries.
Edwards' opening try came when Wanganui won back the kickoff and vice captain Matt Ashworth went for a charge at the line, with the ball recycled back for Edwards to step through and run under the posts for a converted try.
Horowhenua Kapiti replied after going sideline to sideline, where despite a good cover tackle on Nathan Kendrick, the ball was spread for the home side to run closer to the points from the corner.
Trying to move the ball out of their half, Horowhenua-Kapiti coughed it up and Edwards as gone in a flash to score.
Wanganui looked to extend their lead when Clive Stowers put Joshua Clark-Bell in open space, but his inside ball at the corner flag went straight to a defender, with both sides making handling errors just before halftime.
Edwards made a charge into Horowhenua-Kapiti territory after the break, followed up by Clark-Bell, with Ezra Malo then getting to the tryline before Wanganui were penalised.
Ashworth made another hard run back after the home side's clearing kick, and a couple of passes later, Malo fed Edwards to step the last defender and score his hat trick under the posts.
Horowhenua Kapiti wouldn't go away as a long pass saw them dash off to score out wide, well converted for 19-14.
Wanganui kept attacking, with captain Dane Whale's cross kick just going out before Logan Henry could gather it in, and when Horowhenua-Kapiti were penalised running the ball out to halfway, a quick tap saw the ball spread and Henry beat his man to score in the other corner.
The win kept Wanganui with a mathematical chance of making the Top 4 and automatically qualifying for Tauranga as they faced up to Taranaki, but they had no answers for their provincial neighbours in the 45-0 hammering.
Forward Tom Florence was in a dominant mood for the Taranaki side, as were Christian Fa'avae and Issac Ratumitavuki-Kneepekens, who scored a number of tries.
Wanganui got the ball at points of the first half and put pressure on the favourites, but Taranaki soon began to power clear, backing themselves against Wanganui's shepherding style of defence to palm away a tackler and run in the five pointers.
Down 26-0 at halftime, Wanganui leaked three more tries in the second half, with Taranaki's Paul Perez showing some good passing skills while Rhodes Featherstone scored unmarked from a chip ahead on fulltime.
The loss confirmed Wanganui would move over to the Plate side of the bracket, meaning they had to win two sudden death games to qualify for Tauranga, but instead they were beaten by a Poverty Bay side that had lost all three of their pool games.
Pool B: Wanganui lost to Hawke's Bay 36-0; Wanganui bt Horowhenua Kapiti 26-14; Wanganui lost to Taranaki 45-0.
Plate consolation: Wanganui lost to Poverty Bay 19-17.
Playoff 7th-8th: Wanganui bt Horowhenua Kapiti 31-19.