In sweltering sun at Naenae College today the Wellington Secondary Schools Sevens titles were decided with Scots College, St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, St Mary’s College and Wainuiomata High School earning trips to the National Condor Sevens in Auckland in December.
Scots College successfully defended the Christian Cullen Cup, outpacing St Pats Silverstream 26-10 in the Cup final.
Scots scored the first four tries of the finale unanswered before Reilly Higgins and Ryan Amer restored some respectability with consolation efforts for the Catholics.
Scots’ greater aggression at the breakdown and athleticism on the flanks was especially telling as Jaylen Tuapola, Roderick Solo (2) and Epe Sailo crossed the strip to settle the contest quickly.
Scots, who were National runners-up last year, looked by far the most impressive team scoring 24 consecutive tries before concession.
In pool play Scots trounced Hutt Valley High School (43-0), Taita College, (29-0) and Wainuiomata High School (62-0) to establish a semi-final meeting with St Pat’s Town. Town was consigned to second in Pool C after narrowly losing to Silverstream 24-22 in a key early afternoon pool play encounter.
Scots scored two tries in the first two minutes against Town, before facing a genuine acid test for the only time in the day. Town bustled over out wide and then had a try disallowed as they went to the break trailing by five.
Scots swiftly regrouped to prevail 31-12. The towering Isaac Sailo, the industrious Kees Jansen and New Zealand Barbarians Schools selection Caleb Cavubati also impressed for the champions.
Other players to shine in the heat included Roco Berry (St Pats Silverstream), Steven Va’a (Rongotai College), Esera Andrews (Taita College), Herman Seumanufagai (St Pat’s Town) and Dante Kakahi (Wainuiomata High School).
Hutt Valley High School won the Plate final, while Taita College trounced the top Wellington College team 40-19 in the Bowl final. Taita leapt to an early lead, punishing Wellington College mistakes and led 19-12 at halftime before coming home comfortably.
Excluding their Bowl semi-final meeting, both Wellington College teams combined only won two of seven matches, out scored 109-258.
St Mary’s College’s defence of the Kat Simpkins trophy threatened to unravel in their second group match against Sacred Heart College. Early in proceedings Wellington Pride representative Dhys Faleafaga was red carded for a high tackle. It wasn’t a malicious strike, but a dangerous shot on a considerably smaller player which left the referee little choice.
In accordance with tournament rules, Faleafaga faced the judiciary and was suspended for two games missing the last group fixture against Hutt Valley High School and the semi-final against Wainuiomata High School.
After trouncing Queen Margaret College, 36-0, St Mary’s rallied from the Faleafaga setback to foil their fellow doolans 27-10.
Sacred Heart College and Hutt Valley High School were composite teams meaning they were ineligible to qualify for Nationals. When St Mary’s foiled Hutt High 24-12 in their last group game, a place in Auckland was confirmed.
However St Mary’s ambition was greater than mere qualification and two quick tries from Renee Savai'inaea was the catalyst for a 25-7 victory over Wainuiomata High School in the semi-final.
The talismatic Faleafaga returned for the decider and channeled her restless energy more effectively crossing for three tries. Savai'inaea bagged another double while Julie Tusa and Maddie Feaunati really flourished. St Mary’s roster only contained three Year 13 players.
Wainuiomata High School will contest Nationals for the first time by virtue of reaching the top four.
Wainuiomata’s only win in pool play was 30-0 against Wellington East, but the green and blacks advanced to the semi’s ahead of Queen Margaret College (whom they lost to 12-17) on a superior points differential.
Sixteen teams competed, a drop from the 19 that competed last year, the 21 in 2016 and the 23 in 2015. Remarkably there wasn’t a single side from the Porirua area.
Hutt Valley High School and Sacred Heart College, effectively making up the numbers in the girls section, finished second and third respectively. Both teams deserve praise for their commitment and skill, especially Amania Mafi (HVHS) and Hosanna Aumua (Sacred Heart), but the lack of numbers among both sexes raises serious questions about the health of the game.
Such was the clamour for players Richard ‘Squid’ Evans was summoned as a late replacement for Hutt Valley High School. At 1:30am Evans was at Wellington Airport, suffering the flu, having returned from competing at a mixed touch tournament his team won on the Gold Coast.
The National Condor Sevens are held at Sacred Heart College from November 29 to December 2.
Girls Cup: St Mary’s College: 46 v Hutt Valley High School: 0
Girls Plate: Queen Margaret College: 25 v Wellington East: 12
Girls Bowl: Wainuiomata College: 26 v Sacred Heart College: 17
Boys Cup: Scots College: 26 v St Pats Silverstream: 10
Boys Plate: Hutt Valley High School: 26 v Wainuiomata High School: 14
Boys Bowl: Taita College: 40 v Wellington College (1): 19