The Wellington Men’s and Manawatu Women’s teams are out to defend their titles when they line up in this Saturday’s Central Region 7s qualifying tournament in Levin.
The tournament runs from 10.00am to approximately 5.30pm and features 29 games played on two fields at Playford Park.
Pool A: Wellington, Manawatu, Wairarapa-Bush, Poverty Bay
Pool B: Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wanganui, Horowhenua-Kapiti
There are eight men’s sides chasing five places for Nationals, with their finishing position also determining their seedings for that tournament in Mt Maunganui on 14 and 15 December.
Wellington won the inaugural Central 7s event in 1993 and will look for a three-peat of titles after winning impressively in 2017 and backing up last year with victory.
Wellington ran two squads in their own mini warm-up tournament at Porirua Park, with Esi Komaisavai and Sheridan Rangihuna orchestrating their attack.
No Schrijvers brothers this year, with Hayden and Dan opting not to lace up the boots this summer, but a group of young and up and coming players set to fill the ranks. The Wellington 12 for the tournament is set to be named on Saturday morning before their first match at 10.40am against Wairarapa-Bush.
Of the challengers for the title, Hawke’s Bay were beaten finalists last year and impressed with a clutch of young players, Taranaki are always strong at this level and Manawatu’s squad had a positive hit-out at Porirua Park last week.
Wanganui, Wairarapa-Bush, Poverty Bay and hosts Horowhenua-Kapiti could be fighting it out for the last two places for Nationals.
Last five winners: 2014: Taranaki, 2015: Hawkes Bay, 2016: Wellington, 2017: Wellington, 2018: Wellington.
Pool A: Manawatu, Taranaki, Poverty Bay
Pool B: Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Horowhenua-Kapiti, East Coast
Seven women’s teams this year, up from four in 2018.
Four teams to qualify for Nationals.
Manawatu have won all seven women’s Central 7s tournaments, and will be favoured to win again. They beat Wellington with a try on the buzzer in the ‘final’ of their warm-up tournament in Porirua last Saturday. Chrystal Mayes is a key player –and she loves tormenting Wellington teams – with no Selica Winiata who is now refereeing instead.
Farah Palmer Cup unions Hawke’s Bay (third last year) and Taranaki (fourth) will be motivated to book their Nationals spots, while Poverty Bay could be dark horses to upstage them.
Teams and draw below – for more visit the Central 7s Facebook page
Teams and Draw: