The Wellington men's team celebrates with a team photo after winning the Central 7s tournament in Levin.

Wellington men crowned Central 7s champions

Wellington men crowned Central 7s champions


Wellington has been crowned Central 7s men's champions after overrunning Taranaki 33-5 in the final at Playford Park in Levin.

Coach Sam Rasch's New Zealand Institute of Sport (NZIS) Wellington Sevens team were unstoppable in the final match of the tournament as they ran in five tries to Taranaki's one in what was a confidence boosting result ahead of the Bayleys Nationals in Rotorua next January.

Wellington's tries in the final went to Daniel Schrijvers, Te Wehi Wright, Sheridan Rangihuna, Brandon Laursen and Levi Harmon.

Taranaki had no answer against a determined and organised Wellington defence and managed just one try, to Trinity Spooner-Neera in the closing seconds.

Rasch's squad were well led by Hayden Schrijvers, who, along with brother Daniel, was an ever present factor throughout the tournament.

Wellington's handling in the final was sublime as they used the width to spread Taranaki's defence and patiently recycled ball when gaps closed on the fringes.

Rasch cleverly started the experienced Rangihuna in the final after outstanding youngster Esi Komaisavai had guided the team to a convincing 21-5 win over Manawatu in the semifinal.

Rangihuna and Komaisavai switched roles in the final with the former playing a key role in unlocking the Taranaki defence with his quick wide passing game.

Wing Max Pearson had been the star of the semifinal with his straight hard running proving too much for Manawatu.

Wellington had started the tournament with a shaky 19-19 draw with Wanganui before edging defending champions Hawke's Bay 21-19, then thumping Horowhenua-Kapiti 48-0 in their final pool match.

Meanwhile, the young Wellington women also enjoyed a strong tournament before losing to a rampant Manawatu team 26-5 in the final.

Wellington never gave up and gained valuable experience with St Mary's College Condor 7s winning captain Monica Tagoai among those to impress. Mena Tuma'ai got Wellington's only try in the final,

The Charles Aliva coached team had earlier beaten Taranaki 31-12, Hawke's Bay 21-19 and Wanaganui 39-0 in pool play.

A sign of how much the side improved during the tournament came during a convincing 39-7 win over Hawke's Bay in the semifinal.

Both Wellington's men's and women's sevens teams will be in action at the Bayley's Nationals in Rotorua on January 14 and 15 next year.