Taranaki beat Harbour for sevens title
Taranaki have won their first national sevens title in 31 years with a convincing victory over North Harbour in the final in Queenstown this afternoon.
The amber-and-blacks' only titles in the shortened form of the game had previously come in Palmerston North in 1981 and Feilding in 1982.
The weight of history had no effect on them today, however, as they scored 27 unanswered points to effectively wrap up the final midway through the second half.
Mark Atkins showed blistering pace to score a hat-trick of tries for Taranaki, including two in the space of 90 seconds immediately after halftime.
North Harbour did manage to bring some respectability to the scoreline in the second half, with Tevita Li scoring two tries.
Waikato, the winners of the northern regional qualifying tournament, were high profile casualties on day one on Saturday after pool play losses to Northland and Southland.
Auckland's hopes of a third-straight title and a record 12th national sevens crown were dashed when they were upset 21-19 by North Harbour in the championship quarterfinal this morning.
Hawke's Bay and Counties Manukau were other championship regulars to miss out.
Otago's unbeaten run through pool play came to an end in the championship semifinal with a 17-7 loss to Taranaki, while Bay of Plenty's unbeaten campaign was ended by North Harbour at the same point.
It wasn't a great tournament for Auckland, with their women's team also missing out on the final after dominating in the early rounds of their women's round-robin competition.
Manawatu came through strongly from the round-robin, beating both Auckland and Waikato, before downing Waikato again 36-17 in the final to become the first national women champions since Bay of Plenty won the last tournament in 2003.
North Harbour captain David Raikuna won the Joe Tauiwi memorial trophy as the men's player of the tournament, an award he had previously won playing for Counties Manukau in 2008.
Manawatu vice-captain Selica Winiata was named the women's player of the tournament.
All Black Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens will name a development team this week to contest a tournament in Fiji at the weekend.
Day one results:
Pool A: Wellington 26 Tasman 12; Auckland 21 South Canterbury 14; Wellington 36 South Canterbury 7; Auckland 36 Tasman 7; Tasman 34 South Canterbury 10; Auckland 40 Wellington 10.
Pool B: North Harbour 24 v Hawke's Bay 22; Otago 49 Wairarapa Bush 0; Hawke's Bay 40 Wairarapa Bush 5; Otago 21 North Harbour 19; North Harbour 38 Wairarapa Bush 10; Otago 19 Hawke's Bay 19.
Pool C: Southland 12 Manawatu 5; Northland 17 Waikato 7; Manawatu 20 Northland 15; Southland 31 Waikato 21; Northland 26 Southland 12; Waikato 45 Manawatu 10.
Pool D: Taranaki 15 Counties Manukau 10; Bay of Plenty 17 Canterbury 14; Bay of Plenty 19 Taranaki 15; Counties Manukau 17 Canterbury 15; Bay of Plenty 19 Counties Manukau 12; Taranaki 31 Canterbury 10.
Women: Auckland 31 Tasman 0; Manawatu 21 Taranaki 12; Waikato 26 Canterbury 19; Waikato 29 Tasman 0; Manawatu 22 Canterbury 7; Waikato 15 Auckland 7; Canterbury 24 Taranaki 12; Manawatu 43 Tasman 0.
Day two results:
Championship quarterfinals: North Harbour 21 Auckland 19; Bay of Plenty 29 Southland 18; Taranaki 27 Northland 10; Otago 21 Wellington 7.
Semifinals: North Harbour 24 Bay of Plenty 14; Taranaki 17 Otago 7.
Final: Taranaki 32 North Harbour 17
Bottom eight quarter-finals: Tasman 34 Wairarapa Bush 0; Manawatu 17 Counties Manukau 12; Waikato 19 Canterbury 7; Hawke's Bay 47 South Canterbury 0;
Shield semifinals: Counties Manukau 36 Wairarapa Bush 19; Canterbury 29 South Canterbury 10.
Final: Counties Manukau 27 Canterbury 12.
Bowl semifinals: Manawatu 36 Tasman 7; Hawke's Bay 35 Waikato 12.
Final: Hawke's Bay 40 Manawatu 7.
Plate semifinals: Auckland 26 Southland 12; Wellington 22 Northland 14.
Final: Auckland 40 Wellington 20.
Women: Auckland 12 Canterbury 5; Taranaki 41 Tasman 5; Manawatu 26 Waikato 10; Manawatu 14 Auckland 5; Canterbury 24 Tasman 10; Waikato 29 Taranaki 7.
Final: Manawatu 36 Waikato 17