Otago dumps Hawke's Bay from National Sevens
January 11, 2014
One of the favourites for the National Sevens tournament in Rotorua has been dumped out of contention on day one, with Otago upsetting Hawke's Bay 29-12 in Pool A.
Another of the pre-tournament favourites will also face an early elimination, with Auckland and Manawatu set to face each other in a Cup quarter-final on Sunday.
The Bay fielded one of the strongest squads in this year's competition, including All Blacks Sevens player Gillies Kaka and ITM Cup player Ihaia West, but Otago worked hard and proved too strong for their more illustrious opposition.
Matt Faddes opened the scoring for Otago and Josh Casey added a second moments later to put his side 10-0 up. Billy Ropiha clawed one back for Hawke's Bay and Tamati Samuels ensured the Bay went into half-time with a 12-10 lead.
Faddes took his tournament tally to five tries early in the second stanza and Otago controlled the ball well to prevent a Hawke's Bay comeback. Otago scored again with two minutes to play and capped off their upset win with another as the full-time hooter sounded.
The victory sees Otago through to a cup quarter-final against Wellington, after the capital side proved a surprise winner of Pool B, overcoming pre-tournament favourite Auckland 17-14 in their afternoon matchup.
The Scott Waldrom-coached side also defeated Poverty Bay, 29-7, and Southland, 31-7, to top the pool while Auckland ended with two wins. That leaves Auckland with the unenviable task of overcoming the Tomasi Cama-led Manawatu in the quarter-finals.
Northland topped Pool D, and will take on Canterbury in the quarter-finals, while Pool C winners Taranaki will play Bay of Plenty. Counties Manukau were unlucky to miss the quarters, beating Bay of Plenty in the final pool match 21-17, but failing to improve their points differential above their opponents.
In the women's draw, top-seeded teams Auckland and Manawatu will go head to head in the cup semi-final, after Counties Manukau pipped Manawatu into first place in Pool A. Waikato will take on Counties in the other semi, after finishing second to Auckland in Pool B.
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