Phillips valuable asset for Kia Toa

A new player by the name of Blake Phillips was Kia Toa's player of the tournament at the Middlesex Sevens at Pakuranga, Auckland, on Saturday.

Phillips has arrived at the double blues from the Western Force Rugby Academy in Perth.

Kia Toa coach Fusi Feaunati said he was big and abrasive in the contact area at the Auckland tournament. Phillips has played for Western Australian age-grade teams and last year was picked for the Australia A schoolboys squad against New Zealand and Fiji.

He has also represented Australia in the Australia World Youth Athletics discus and shot-put.

Meanwhile, Kia Toa had been invited to Auckland as the Manawatu club sevens winners to join other provincial champions.

Kias paid for their late arrival in Auckland, driving north and getting there at about 1am.

"In the first game we were slow getting out of the blocks; the boys were tired," Feaunati said.

They lost that one to Auckland 15s champions and host club, Pakuranga United, by 24-17.

They were better in the second game, drawing 19-all with another Auckland club side, Otahuhu.

Kias might have won that one, but for dropping the ball over the line and again spilling it when the defence had been broken. Manawatu Turbo Newton Tudreu was sinbinned for throwing the ball away and Otahuhu belted in for two tries.

Kias did go on to win the bowl section, beating Taranaki winners Southern 19-14 in the final after leading 19-7.

In the semifinals, Kia Toa beat a Tongan invitation team, Siutaki, 28-7. That team was coached by former Manawatu star Emosi Koloto.

Kias' standout players were Tudreu, Jordan Bunce and Atutahi Henare. Manawatu lock Fraser Stone came up sore in the second game and wasn't risked after that.

New Zealand sevens player George Tilsley played most of the games but had a slight groin strain in the bowl semifinal, came off and didn't play the final.

The Matua Parkinson-coached Rangataua from Bay of Plenty won the tournament, outclassing defending champions Pakuranga 35-21 in the final. In the semifinals, Pakuranga beat Papatoetoe 20-7 and Rangataua beat Upper Hutt 26-12.

Kia Toa will play in the Shannon Sevens next weekend.

Manawatu Standard