Wellington Sevens champions Hutt Old Boys Marist fell to a superbly well-organised North Harbour Marist team in the Cup final of the New Zealand Marist Federation Sevens tournament at Wakefield Park in Wellington this afternoon.
Led by their captain and speedster Ben Paltridge, playmaker Michael Little and industrious forward Josh Rowland, North Harbour Marist were deserving 2015 competition winners.
North Harbour Marist won the Cup final 31-14, running away to score three unanswered tries in the second half after scores had been locked up at 14-14 at the turnaround and with a North Harbour Marist player in the sin-bin.
HOBM had levelled the scores up to 14-14 when Ope Peleaseuma crashed over towards the end of the first half, but, restored to seven players, it was all one-way traffic in the second spell for the visitors.
North Harbour Marist captain Paltridge expressed his team’s delight in winning. “Winning this tournament means a lot to us, we’re really pleased with how we went this weekend against strong opposition,” he said.
“A key for us was our fitness that paid off in today’s games, Paltridge said, adding it was a real team effort that saw them through a couple of close matches.
That included beating 20-19 Hutt Old Boys Marist in Pool play yesterday.
Paltridge said that the slate was wiped clean for the final. “We treated the final as a completely different game to the one yesterday. We knew what they do, they knew what we do, so we just had to work hard in the last match.”
He also thanked his team’s sponsors Paladin, Martin’s Pharmacy and Alaska Construction.
Paltridge said that this win is the culmination of a successful Sevens rugby campaign. The club didn’t enter the North Harbour club Sevens in early November (won by North Shore), with several guys away playing for international and invitational teams in other tournaments.
Previously in October, they were beaten finalists (losing to Auckland’s Ponsonby) in the final of the Mt Maunganui Club Sevens tournament and later in November were beaten semi-finalists to eventual winners Bombay (Counties Manukau) in the Glenfield Sevens.
Paltridge said the team was looking forward to celebrating their win at the Wellington Sevens down at Westpac Stadium this afternoon and this evening.
This morning’s Cup quarterfinals had seen HOBM defeat last year’s champions Hamilton Marist 19-10 and North Harbour Marist defeat Nelson Marist 15-7.
Counties Manukau’s Ardmore Marist had beaten Tauranga’s Greerton Marist 38-12 in their Cup quarterfinal and Napier Old Boys Marist had knocked out Wellington’s other club Marist St Pat’s 19-10.
Both Cup finalists had then won contrasting semi-finals.
North Harbour went on an early scoring spree and then held off Ardmore Marist to win 31-21, while HOBM had a fortuitous 15-14 victory over Napier.
HOBM led Napier 10-0, but Napier flew back to lead 14-10. Napier went close to extending this lead, only a covering tackle in the corner by Peleseuma saving the day. Peleseuma then burst through himself to score the winning try.
Nelson Marist went on to defeat Hamilton Marist 19-17 to win the Plate final.
Hastings Rugby and Sports, featuring last year’s New Zealand Schools wing Mason Emerson and crowd favourite in giant striding Fijian Sanaila Waqa, defeated St Michael’s, Rotorua, 33-5 in the Bowl final.
The Auckland Fijians took out the International tournament that ran parallel to the Club Marist one. The Auckland Fijians were fit, fast and hungry and won their section convincingly. They were awarded the Pacific Rim Championship at the end – between the Plate and International winners – but a tired Nelson Marist forfeited this one.
On Saturday, the Havelock North Women’s side were crowned New Zealand Marist Women’s Sevens champions, after defeating fellow Hawke’s Bay team Hastings Rugby & Sports 22-12 in their final.
Havelock North had previously defeated Hastings 12-0 and Hutt Old Boys Marist (in that new team’s debut) 22-5 in their two Pool matches.
The tournament was well-run by the New Zealand Marist Federation. Full results will be published on their website at http://www.maristrugby.org.nz/
Four teams that played in this competition, Hutt Old Boys Marist, Hamilton Marist, Ardmore Marist and Wainuiomata (in the International competition) are set to contest the New Zealand Club Sevens Championships hosted by the Rangataua club in the Bay of Plenty next weekend.
The two teams that met in the Cup final were:
Hutt Old Boys Marist:
Lise Soloa (Captain); Ope Peleseuma; James Kusel; Sheridan Rangihuna; Blake McGregor; Tomasi Alosio; Chase Tiatia; Site Timu; Sala Soloa; Fereti Soloa; Bernard Nickel; Frances Tunuvasa. Coaches: Dan Pavihi and Dan Vulu. Manager: Scott Ashton
North Harbour Marist:
Ben Paltridge (Captain); Martin Brink; Jes Vestergen; Francois Marais; Matt Matich; Jono Corliss; Curtis Reid; Josh Prendergast; Josh Rowland; Cody Mackie; Robbie McIntosh; Ben Andrews; Michael Little. Coach: Matt Lumsden. Manager: Ruben Esterhuyse. Medial Support; Nicole Armstrong.