Oriental Rongotai won today’s second leg of the American Ambassador’s WRFU Club Sevens series, whilst sharing the overall title with the Upper Hutt Rams after the latter won the first tournament last Saturday.
The two clubs met again in the Cup final this afternoon, where roles were reversed from last week with Ories skipping out to a 31-5 win.
Both clubs finished the two tournament series equal on 38 points and will have possession of the silverware for six months each over the coming year.
This is Upper Hutt’s first WRFU Sevens series win since 2017, while Ories last won in 2008.
The run of play in the final was close initially before the Rams won a turnover in midfield and wing Fritz Rayasi ran through to score in the corner. Ories quickly regrouped and they scored two tries in the first half, both to Teni Tautua’a. Ories led 14-5 at the turnaround.
The Magpies scored first in the second half with a try to Isaac Bracewell which put them up 19-5. Ories’ coach Poasa Poasa then emptied his bench, which included North Harbour prop Alex Fidow and New Zealand Sevens representative Roderick Solo, making it a tough ask for the Rams to come back.
They rallied with a breakout but Ories withstood the danger and then sealed the deal with two late tries to Solo.
In the Cup semi-finals, Ories had enjoyed a dominant 61-0 win over Wellington Axemen Black side, and the Rams had beaten Paremata-Plimmerton 31-17.
There was a Plate final immediately before the Cup decider which resulted in Avalon beating the Ories second side 19-14.
There was drama off and on the field at the start of today’s tournament which was delayed by 20 minutes owing to a thunder and lightning storm, and the rain persisted for the first couple of hours. This made conditions for many of the early games difficult, in the rain and extremely slippery surface.
On the field, the outcome of Wainuiomata’s first game of the morning would prove pivotal to matchups later in the day. They lost their match against Avalon by default because they fielded too many players as per the tournament rules. Had this have not happened, Wainuiomata would have made the Cup semi-finals and had a chance to progress further. This breach caused some consternation in their camp, and they would go on to lose their Plate semi-final 26-24 to Ories.
Two extra teams were added to the original draw, both additional Axemen teams, making it a 10-team competition. Their second team quickly proved competitive, and they went close to upsetting the Upper Hutt Rams in pool play, holding them to a 26-26 draw in their match. This gave them the opportunity to top their pool if they beat Wainuiomata in their last match with a bonus point. Instead Wainuiomata won this game 24-10 and the Rams’ and Ories’ top teams won both pools.
As well as players in the Rams and Ories sides to stand out, some others to have eye-catching tournaments today included Garry Naitini (Avalon), Esi Komaisavai (Paremata-Plimmerton), school-leaver Emmanuel Solomona (Wainuiomata) and side-stepping Knox Tuinasau (Wellington).
This tournament marks the conclusion of the Wellington club rugby season 2022.
Pool play results/scores were as follows:
Watch a replay of the day’s sevens action on Huddy Sports: