Tough start to sevens

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 18:29 11/01/2014

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Southland's men's and women's teams have had a tough start to the national sevens tournament in Rotorua today.

The men's team struggled against the power of Auckland in their opening game, eventually going down 38-14 after trailing 19-5 at halftime.

A 31-12 win over Poverty Bay in the second round gave Southland a chance to qualify for the top half of the competition in tomorrow's finals, but that evaporated with a 31-7 loss to an unbeaten Wellington.

The women's side, making their debut at the national finals which are being staged in the North Island for the first time after a decade in Queenstown, were faced with a difficult pool and a demanding programme which included four games on the opening day.

The young, inexperienced Southland team looked to make a solid start against a powerful Auckland team, but couldn't match the physicality of their opponents, losing 32-nil.

A 24-7 loss to Otago provided a highlight for Southland with outstanding 17-year-old Courtney O'Callaghan scoring Southland's first try at the national finals.

Southland finished the day with 52-nil and 15-12 losses to Waikato and Wellington, respectively.

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