- By Steven White
- Photos by Andy McArthur
The Wellington Fijian Flyers Black team won today’s second annual Bula Aotearoa 7s tournament at a sun-drenched Porirua Park, to usher in the new year of rugby.
The Fijian Flyers Black side timed their run to the title to perfection, beating last year’s runners-up the Whanganui Fijians 19-7 in the Cup final at the end of an action packed day.
The Cup final was a hard-fought affair, with both sides creating chances and also losing a player each to the sinbin throughout the first half. It appeared the teams would head to halftime all locked up at 0-0, but the Flyers scored a runaway try to Kyle Preston (below) after a tighthead scrum win to go ahead 7-0.
The Whanganui team struck back early in the second half with a galloping break to the line by veteran Timoci Serawalu, but Preston latched on to an inside pass by Ethan Webster-Nonu to scamper away to score his second try to make it 12-7.
Whanganui pushed hard to get in back in the game, but a turnover and runaway try sealed the match for the Flyers with time running down (below).
Preston was named the tournament MVP at the presentation immediately following the final.
Both finalists had won well in their Cup semi-finals. The Flyers flew to a 19-0 lead and went on to beat Waikato Fijians 33-12, while the Whanganui side pulled clear in the second half on their way to beating Hawke’s Bay Blue 38-7.
The Waikato and Hawke’s Bay Blue teams contested two of the closest matches of the tournament. In the final pool match of the middle session, Waikato beat them 21-17 on a last play try. But Hawke’s Bay reversed this in the Plate final that followed a couple of hours later.
Hawke’s Bay Blue were leading Waikato 19-12 late in the Plate final and it appeared their strong defensive game was going to save them until Waikato scored at the death and converted to level it up to 19-19 and force extra time. After a short period of extra time, Hawke’s Bay scored the winning try to take a 24-19 win and finish third (below).
There were two Marlborough teams at the tournament and they contested the Bowl final. Marlborough Blue scored two second half tries to beat Marlborough Red 22-12.
The knockout rounds had started after 3.00pm with the four Cup quarter-finals. In these, Serawalu scored two tries in Whanganui’s 22-0 win over Marlborough Red, Hawke’s Bay Blue pulled away in the second spell to beat Wairarapa-Bush 40-5 convincingly, Waikato made a fast start in beating Hawke’s Bay Blue (again) 35-5 and the Flyers Black beat Marlborough Blue 42-0.
There were also Bowl semi-finals, with Marlborough Red beating Wairarapa-Bush 26-14 and Marlborough Blue beating Hawke’s Bay Black 26-14.
Tournament winners the Flyers Black side had opened their tournament in the morning session with a 24-14 win over Waikato, before beating Marlborough Red 29-12 and later Lomaiviti 41-7 and Hawke’s Bay Blue 27-19.
The Hawke’s Bay Black side was involved in two close matches in the morning, for a win and a loss. They were defeated by Wairarapa-Bush 17-12 in the second match of the day and then had a hard-fought 12-5 win over Marlborough Blue, who also later lost a close game to Wairarapa-Bush 17-14.
The tournament was well run and, as always, officiated well by the Wellington Rugby Referees’ Association.