The Auckland men’s team has made a solid start to their national sevens title defence with three wins from three on the opening day of competition.
It was a rusty first up performance against South Canterbury which captain Ed Cocker described as the team, “blowing out the cobwebs”.
Despite scoring first through Nathan Hughes, South Canterbury hit back with two tries to take a 14-7 half time lead.
Auckland kept their defence tight in the second half, not letting South Canterbury cross their line while they crossed for two of their own to secure the win.
All Black Sevens player Milford Keresoma showed his skills with a 75-metre individual effort before fellow New Zealand rep Ben Lam crossed for the winning try.
The team hit their straps in their second round match against Tasman, running in six tries to one.
Lam opened the scoring on the back of some strong work from Rocky Khan and Keresoma.
Jona Tuitoga showed his pace with a 60-metre bust down the right touchline for a try before Keresoma scored just before the break to make the halftime lead 19-0.
Despite a messy start to the second half, Lam went in for his double before Orene Ai’i and Tutu Tairea both crossed the line to finish the game 36-7.
The men saved their best for last against Wellington in their final pool match, winning 38-10, scoring another six tries.
Orene Ai’i showed his experience and class with a try in the first 20 seconds before Jona Tuitoga and Iopu Iopu also crossed for first half tries.
Tuitoga crossed for his second in the second spell before Iopu and Joe Tupe put the game beyond doubt with further tries.
Coach Paul Feeney said he was pleased with how the day went.
“We did start slow – the boys were lethargic and slipped off tackles but they got better and that final game against Wellington was by far their best,” said Feeney.
While a head knock to captain Ed Cocker Tasman game is of particular concern, Feeney said he may be able to play tomorrow.
“We will assess him in the morning. He would be a big loss, but we started Iopu Iopu in that last game and he scored two fine tries and played well,” said Feeney.
The only other concern after day one is Milford Keresoma who is suffering a chest infection but Feeney believes he should be able to play tomorrow.
“We will need to start better than we finished today. If we play with the same enthusiasm I’m confident we’ll do well but if we don’t – anyone could beat us," said Feeney.
Auckland will meet North Harbour in the quarter final tomorrow at 11.25am.
The Auckland women progressed through their first two games with ease before a hiccup in proceedings against Waikato.
Winning 31-0 over Tasman and 54-0 over Taranaki in what coach Anna Richards described as a near perfect performance, the team was on the wrong side of the penalty count in their 15-7 loss to Waikato.
“The Waikato game was a good reality check. The team is disappointed because the game showed things can go wrong pretty quickly,” said Richards.
Penalised heavily at the breakdown, Richards said that is the one area the team has to address before they start tomorrow.
The lone try went to Tyla Nathan-Wong who worked hard throughout the match. Leanne Thompson and Justine Lavea both left the field with injuries
but Richards said they will be assessed in the morning.
The women will start their day against Canterbury at 10.25am before playing the unbeaten Manawatu at 2.05pm.
Day One Results
Taranaki 17-10 Counties Manukau (Pool D)
Canterbury 14 – 17 Bay of Plenty (Pool D)
Manawatu 5 – 12 Southland (Pool C)
Auckland Women 31 – 0 Tasman Women
Waikato 7 – 17 Northland (Pool C)
Manawatu Women 21 – 20 Taranaki Women
Wellington 26 – 12 Tasman (Pool A)
Canterbury Women 19 – 26 Waikato Women
Auckland 21 – 14 South Canterbury (Pool A)
North Harbour 24 – 22 Hawke’s Bay (Pool B)
Auckland Women 54 – 0 Taranaki Women
Otago 49 – 0 Wairarapa Bush (Pool B)
Tasman Women 0 – 29 Waikato Women
Taranaki 10 – 17 Bay of Plenty (Pool D)
Manawatu Women 22 – 7 Canterbury Women
Canterbury 15 – 17 Counties Manukau (Pool D)
Manawatu 20 – 15 Northland (Pool C)
Waikato 21 – 31 Southland (Pool C)
Wellington 36 – 7 South Canterbury (Pool A)
Auckland 36 – 7 Tasman (Pool A)
Hawke’s Bay 40 – 5 Wairarapa Bush (Pool B)
Otago 19 – 12 North Harbour (Pool B)
Auckland Women 7 – 15 Waikato Women
Taranaki Women 12 – 24 Canterbury Women
Tasman Women 0 – 43 Manawatu Women
Counties Manukau 12 – 19 Bay of Plenty (Pool D)
Canterbury 10 -26 Taranaki (Pool D)
Southland 12 v 26 Northland (Pool C)
Waikato 47 – 5 Manawatu (Pool C)
Tasman 34 – 10 South Canterbury (Pool A)
Auckland 38 – 10 Wellington (Pool A)
North Harbour 38 - 10 Wairarapa Bush (Pool B)
Otago 19 - 19 Hawke's Bay (Pool B)