Men's tournament MVP Tasi Masoe in action in the final for home team Wainuiomata against the WRFU squad.
The WRFU men’s and women’s representative squads annexed today’s eighth annual Piri Weepu Invitational Sevens tournament at Wise Park, Wainuiomata.
The Wellington Women won the final comfortably enough against the Northern United club side, conceding the first try but responding with four first half tries and another two in the second half to win 40-5.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Wellington Men’s outfit, who found themselves trailing the Wainuiomata club team just after halftime before going on to win the final 33-17.
In steady rain that had started falling immediately before the two finals, Wainuiomata’s Player of the Tournament Tutasi Masoe sliced through to score with the opening act of the second half to put his side up 17-14.
Wellington got lucky from the very next kick-off, winning contestable possession and scoring a runaway try and converting to re-take the lead. Shortly after, Losi Filipo cut through to score the first two late tries to seal the decider.
Kemara Hauiti-Parapara and Filipo had scored the first two tries of the men’s final but Wainuiomata hit back with a double strike to make it two tries apiece at halftime and then briefly took the lead.
While Masoe was the Men’s MVP, Northern United’s Grace Surridge was the Women’s tournament MVP. Surridge scored a number of piercing long-range individual tries in her games for Norths.
For the two Wellington representative squads and for the visiting Wanganui men’s team, the tournament served as a warm up to the Central Zone 7’s, which is the annual qualifier for Nationals, held in Levin next Saturday.
Both Wellington’s official squads are expected to be selected and named early this coming week.
The Wellington men carried a 16-player squad into this tournament, plus some players are still come back into the mix such as Sheridan Rangihuna and Pakai Turia.
Wanganui endured a tough visit. Leaving central Wanganui at 5:30am, the team bus was stalled in Levin following a motor accident. A diversion resulted in a late arrival and already under strength in numbers, injuries forced two coaches to strip off and play.
On the field, Jake Walmsley, Romu Senilebu, Nash Fiso and Pepesana Patafilo (although he left the field injured in the final) were standouts for the Wellington men while current and former St Mary’s duo Dhys Faleafaga and Monica Tagoai were full of running for the girls and Jane Bryce produced fireworks with big hits and sideline kicks. Taogai and Marcelle Parkes returned from the Black Ferns squad in France to play this tournament.
Billy Wallace Best & Fairest award winner Greg Foe played for both Wainuiomata and Poneke while some players appeared for as many as three teams as the spirit was communal and substitute rules relaxed.
The WRFU Men’s earlier wins in the tournament in Pool B were over Northern United (19-12), Petone (34-0), Wanganui (26-10) and the Wellington Niueans (50-0)
In the other pool, Wainuiomata defeated the Wellington Samoans (50-5), Poneke (17-12), Marist St Pat’s (24-16) and Johnsonville (19-5).
MSP were also competitive in Pool A, losing to finalists 16-24, thrashing Poneke 46-0 and beating the Wellington Samoans 33-21 in a lively match.
In the Women’s pool, both Wainuiomata and Petone were competitive and pushed Norths for a place in the final against the WRFU women’s team.
The Wellington men’s team have essentially won 19 out of 20 games in various build up matches ahead of their defence of the Central Zone title.
Piri Weepu himself made an appearance at the tournament in the morning, while his older brother Billy was also in attendance later in the day.
Tournament organisers weren’t blind to palatable music with the groove of Stevie Wonder’s greatest hits surely a more desirable sound than Childish Gambino in Auckland tonight.