Sevens: Tough day for favourites at nationals

No-one could have predicted day one of the National Rugby Sevens in Queenstown as two hot favourites bowed out of the competition early and the minnows stood their ground.

Tomorrow Waikato and Canterbury will battle in a match that means nothing for the championship, but plenty for the rugby provinces' pride.

Canterbury lost all three of its pool D matches leaving New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens equally surprised on the sidelines.

"There were a few upsets for sure, but that is a real credit to the smaller unions putting in some real effort to this game.

"Canterbury were down to nine players at one stage and unfortunately they're not in the championship tomorrow."

Tietjens was most impressed with the minnow squads such as Northland, who began well by ruining Waikato's day 17-7 before losing to Manawatu 20-5 and beating Southland 26-12.

Other surprises were Southland's run to the playoffs through beating Manawatu 12-5 and Waikato 31-21 before going down to Northland.

Tietjens said he was equally impressed with the southernmost side and the way Otago had played in front of their home crowd.

"Otago always play well here...they play well as a team."

He said although Auckland's day had started slowly, the scoreboard showed a well-trained side that will be tough to beat.

Tietjens attributes the days upsets to "sevens rugby."

"Sometimes it's the way the ball bounces, a few rough calls or a few injuries."

"That can put pressure on the favourites and work in the favour of the sides playing against them."

From the South Island Otago looked sharp throughout day one with strong campaigns coming from Matt Faddes, Kieran Moffat and Gareth Evans who dominated at breakdown.

Faddes showed speed and determination both in close and out wide and would have been sure to have turned the NZ coach's head.

Otago finished at the top of their pool B and will play an underdone Wellington side tomorrow.

While they pipped Wairarapa Bush 49-0 and North Harbour 21-12, the home side was unlucky not to make it three from three when Hawkes Bay were able to score in overtime to draw 19-19.

Other teams to make day two's playoffs were Auckland, who will face arch rivals North Harbour, the Bay of Plenty, who will play Southland and Northland who will play an in form Taranaki side.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the women to the national tournament proved popular and Auckland look impressive at this point after beating Tasman 31-0, Taranaki 54-0 before losing it against Waikato 7-15.

Pools

A in order: Auckland, Wellington, Tasman, South Canterbury.

B: Otago, North Harbour, Hawke's Bay, Wairapa Bush.

C: Northland, Southland, Waikato, Manawatu.

D: Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Counties Manakau, Canterbury