Team realise sevens dream
South Canterbury's dream of qualifying for the National Sevens in Queenstown came true after a comprehensive 38-7 win over North Otago to snatch the last qualifying spot.
South Canterbury had earlier beaten North Otago 19-7 in pool play but then after North Otago beat Mid Canterbury 26-19 they faced off again in the playoff for fifth and sixth.
North Otago scored first through Billy Guyton but South Canterbury replied with an excellent try to Sekope Maea, who sold a dummy and ran from halfway and then Maile I'Ongi found a gap after George Lott kept the ball alive after the halftime bell rang to make the score 14-7 at the break.
The second half was however one way traffic with South Canterbury scoring four tries to Tanu Suavine, Steve Burt, Nate Robinson and Maea.
South Canterbury had earlier lost to Southland 26-12 and Tasman 31-7 in pool play but won the one that really counted.
South Canterbury had several standouts including Heartland centre Burt, who played in the forwards, Maea and I'Ongi.
Kali Latu also made some strong runs but the best player on the day was captain Robinson who was a clever playmaker and organised his team well.
He also drop-kicked a couple of sideline conversions.
Having seen the standard required, South Canterbury coaches Gareth Burgess and Pene Latu will have to decide whether to opt for a second loan player for Queenstown.
Otago staged a 34-21 come-from-behind victory over Canterbury to be crowned South Island champions and lift the Tofa Shield at Alpine Energy Stadium.
Otago found themselves down 21-10 at the break but then kept Canterbury scoreless as they added four tries.
Adam Knight and Brad Webber scored a brace each with Webber impressing with his strength.
South Canterbury Heartland player of the year Liam Edwards was a late withdrawal from the Otago side after a practice injury.
For Canterbury, Solomona Paraki got a double, having earlier shone as loan player for Mid Canterbury in the Heartland competition.
Tasman and Southland also qualify for Queenstown early in the new year by virtue of making the semifinals.
Southland stretched Canterbury in the first one forcing the game into extra time after a 21-all draw, but Canterbury got through with a simple try just after the restart while Otago were too good for Tasman notching up 43 points.
In the women's final, Canterbury thrashed Tasman 34-0 with Ruby Tui and Erica Prescott impressing for the victors.
Former Timaru Girls' High School student Amanda Murphy also got plenty of game time for Canterbury while referee Chelsea Gurr impressed in the final.
The Timaru tournament was the first of three regional tournaments to determine which teams will qualify for the National Sevens in Queenstown on January 12 and 13 .
The northern tournament will be held on December 8 in Auckland, and the central one on December 15 in Palmerston North.
The women's finalists in each of those tournaments will advance to Queenstown along with Canterbury and Tasman, while six men's teams from the northern and five from central will also head south.
- The Timaru Herald