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Counties take Northern Sevens Women's crown

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aucklandrugby.co.nz     21 Aug 2012     Getty Images

The tournament featured teams from North Harbour, Waikato, Counties-Manukau and Bay of Plenty.

For many players it was their first time competing in a seven’s tournament and both Auckland teams were focussed on development rather than results.

Auckland White and Blue were in opposing pools, with White kicking off the tournament against Counties Manukau.

The Counties Manukau team, which featured several Auckland Storm players, showed early signs that they were the team to beat, and Auckland White were unable to do that, going down 27-7.

Auckland Blue were next up with their first match against Waikato. Blue took an early lead and held on to it, to win 19-10.

Auckland White picked up a 15-0 win in their second match, over North Harbour, while Blue scored in the dying stages of their match against Bay of Plenty to win 14-10.

Those results set up an all-Auckland semi-final.

Auckland Blue had the first possession and after spreading the ball from side to side they were able to split the midfield defence and Mele Hufanga ran in for the try.

Jade Le Pesq made it two moments later, running blind from a scrum and using her blistering pace to cross the line untouched.

Blue extended their lead to 19-0 on the stroke of half time, Roseanne Leaupepe setting up Eden Cherrington for a try underneath the posts.

White was far from out of the match though and an impressive second half performance from Kayla McAlister saw her set up three tries.

First it was Joanne O’Sullivan that was the recipient of an offload following a McAlister break and only minutes later Tyla Nathan-Wong was the benefactor, closing the gap to 19-12.

A run away try to Le Pesq saw Blue further their lead to 26-12, and despite a huge break from McAlister in the dying stages to set up Elizabeth Rankin for a try, the result was a 26-19 win to Blue.

White played Waikato in the play-off for third and fourth, the see-saw battle saw White emerge victors 7-5, courtesy of a Linda Itunu try.

Auckland Blue faced Counties Manukau in the final. The visitors were able to starve Blue of any possession and ran away winners, 34-0.

Auckland Blue coach Anna Richards said the tournament was a great experience for all players, particularly for those who were new to the game.

"After all our training it was great to get the teams out on the field. It was a good introduction to the game for many of the girls and we played against some good teams."

Richards said both teams will now have a break for players to focus on Auckland Storm and National Sevens duties. They will get back together before a series of tournaments likely to be scheduled later in the year.

Final Placings

1st: Counties Manukau
2nd: Auckland Blue
3rd: Auckland White
4th: Waikato
5th: Bay of Plenty
6th: North Harbour