Good performance from Otago sides in tournament

The Otago Blue side won the Referees Sevens tournament in Oamaru on Saturday, getting its sevens season going on a winning note.

Otago sent two teams to the tournament and its gold team also played well, making the semifinals before going down to Southland.

Otago Blue beat Canterbury in the semifinals 31-26, and went through to the final to take on Southland. It won that game 33-12 to finish the tournament as the top side.

There were eight teams at the tournament and a North Otago invitation team finished sixth.

Coach Roy Hawker said he was impressed with the performance of both Otago teams at the tournament, which was played at Whitestone Contracting Stadium.

The Otago Gold team had played well, and was competitive in its semifinal against Southland before going down 17-5. It lost the third and fourth playoff to Canterbury — which only had one team at the tournament — 24-14.

Mackenzie Haugh put in a good shift for the Gold team, while the play of Kieran McClea and Roman Blackman also impressed.

Injuries and the fatigue of having to play five games of sevens caught up with some teams, as many players struggled to make it to the end of the final game.

The Otago Blue team was too good for Southland in the final, and put in some good efforts right through the day.

Hawker said players such as Kalin Thomas, Gavin Stark, Ben Miller and Josh Casey performed well for Blue.

With many Otago players new to sevens, Hawker was pleased with the development and maturity shown by many.

Taylor Haugh did not play on Saturday, as it was decided to err on the side of caution after he had had a head knock.

Hawker now had the tough task of finalising a 12-man team for the South Island tournament, which is in Timaru on December 1.

It was a good dilemma to have in having to pick a team from a pool of talent, he said, and players were working hard.

A 12-player team would be picked for the Timaru tournament.

Just two weeks later, the national tournament would take place in Tauranga, on December 15-16.

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