Varsity and FOBO claim club 7's titles
On what was a typical Palmerston North winters day in the middle of spring the Manawatu Club 7's Championships were contested at Massey University. With the grounds in their usual bowling green form it allowed for some fast flowing 7's to be played even given the weather conditions. The Men's competition consisted of 10 Open Grade teams whilst the Women's grade was made up of 4 teams which meant the tournament for women would take place for the first time in a number of years.
With Linton Red and Feilding Yellow the likely front runners from the outset they wasted no time in reinforcing this with early wins, Varsity with their team of backs had looked like they may run into similar issues as previous years and be outmuscled in the contact area however were getting the early wins, likewise OBM looked like they may be the quiet achievers as they too started well with wins.
Kia Toa, FOB Oroua and Feilding Black were showing signs of their late throw together make up however were doing enough to stay in touch with the leaders as were Linton Black, Linton White and COB.
As the day wore on Varsity had met Feilding in pool play where Varsity had got away with a narrow win 19-17 and Linton Red had snuck home against OBM in the other pool. All four teams were on track to make the playoffs with Kia Toa and COB still a chance also.
Upon conclusion of the final pool games Linton Red were unbeaten as were Varsity and OBM and Fielding Yellow would scoop the other playoff spots. As soon as the semi finalists were found the wind gather momentum which would make for some interesting 7's even though the drizzle had by this point disappeared.
Feilding would establish an early lead over Linton however the soldiers fitness was proving to be their strength as they looked to claw their way back into the game, although a forward pass which would have lead to a certain try late in the game and would have made the score 20-17 with a minute on the clock was spotted by referee Matt McEwen, it then became a case of chewing up the clock with the Feilding High School laden Yellows team did to book a spot to defend their ANZAC Trophy.
On Field 2 Varsity and OBM were locked at 5 all for much of the game with the wind proving difficult and OBM holding 80% of the possession. However late in the game a Varsity try would put them in front where they would hold on to head to the final against Feilding.
The final which was a short turn around from the semi final was going to be a battle of fitness, Varsity were down to 10 players after Thomas Kalin and Cody Hemi were ruled out mid tournament injured and Feilding had a few bigger lads who were starting to fatigue. It was Varsity who struck first with two well converted tries to lead 14-0, however Feilding would strike back twice. Terangatira Waitokia would however have the last say scoring with under a minute on the clock to secure the Varity win and claim their first title in what is thought to be 26 years.
In the Women's division FOB Oroua looked to be the early contenders where they had beaten all three opposition in pool play. Massey looked as if they were a chacne of tipping up Kia Toa to snatch a place in the final however this was not to be. Linton had pulled together a team for the day and competed well narrowly losing 12-10 to Massey and building a good foundation to launch their 15 a-side campaign in 2019. FOB Oroua however would go on to win their final against Kia Toa to secure the trophy and add to their 15 a-side title they had claimed earlier in the year.