Auckland wins sevens title


NZPA     17 Jan 2005     Fotopress

Led by the irrepressible Amasio Valance, Auckland scored six converted tries to hammer Northland 42-12 in the final at the Wakatipu Rugby Club.

For Rush, it was a first national title as a coach after winning several as a player - and every accolade possible in sevens - with North Harbour.

"Mate, I'm not a good watcher," the retired great said after the final. "Now I know why Gordon Tietjens hasn't got any hair."

Widely expected to follow Tietjens as coach of the New Zealand team, Rush said he was in awe of the effort produced by the younger players in his team.

"I thought we'd struggled at times on Saturday but the young fellas really lifted their intensity today.

"Some of them are just out of club rugby, but there's some great talent coming through."

Rush was firmly behind the decision to permanently base the sevens tournament in Queenstown.

"The atmosphere, the crowd, the climate...everything is perfect."

Playmaker Valance received the Joe Tauiwi Memorial Trophy for player of the tournament, following two days in which he and teammate Orene Ai'i were unquestionably the class acts on display.

Northland took the lead in the final through a smart toe-ahead try by Thomas Toialoa, but Auckland responded with first-half tries, a double to David Smith, and Valance.

When Northland had Eric Abraham sin-binned shortly after the break, the game was effectively settled, with veteran Mana Ashford scoring a late double for Auckland.

Northland had played superbly to reach the final, knocking out strong Counties-Manukau and Bay of Plenty along the way, but Auckland was a deserved champion.

Pre-tournament favourite Wellington, after being thrashed by Auckland in the major quarterfinals, had to settle for the second-tier Plate title.

New Zealand stars Roy Kinikinilau and Tafai Ioasa each scored twice as Wellington over-ran Hawke’s Bay 36-22.

Otago never really fired in attempting to repeat their surprise effort of reaching last year's final.

They were beaten by Taranaki and Northland in the early rounds before thrashing Southland 33-5 for a place in the Bowl final.

Tim Boys, Adam Thompson, Toby Morland and captain Luke Herden scored the tries in the 29-19 win over Canterbury.

Manawatu beat North Otago 45-24 in the Shield final.

The under-achiever of the tournament was Waikato, who shaped as one of the favourites but could not win a game in pool play and was beaten by Canterbury in the Bowl semifinal.

About 3500 spectators attended the tournament each day with temperatures climbing into the 30s.