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Both Otago sides have tough draws in this weekend’s national sevens tournament in Tauranga.
Teams have to finish in the top two of their pool to go through, although the top two third-place finishers in the women’s pools will go through to the quarterfinals. The men’s competition has 16 teams and the women’s competition has 12.
The Otago women will take on Bay of Plenty, Auckland and North Harbour in their pool.
Their first game is against Bay of Plenty at 10.25am on Saturday, followed by Auckland at 12.45pm. Their final game of pool play will be against North Harbour at 4.15pm.
The men’s side has last year’s champion, Tasman, in its pool along with Waikato and South Canterbury.
Otago’s first game is against Tasman at 11.05am on Saturday. It will then take on Waikato at 1.05pm and finish with a match against South Canterbury at 4.15pm.
Otago needs to beat Tasman or Waikato to make it through to the top eight on Sunday, as it should be too strong for South Canterbury.
But Otago can take nothing for granted.
Key man Taylor Haugh was in Dubai over the weekend playing for an invitation team at the Dubai sevens tournament and he is due back in New Zealand today.
The Otago women’s side will have to be on the ball early in the tournament as host Bay of Plenty is sure to give a dogged display in the first match.
Neither Otago side made it through to the semifinals last year.
The Southland men’s team will face Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Thames Valley in its pool. The Southland women did not qualify for the national tournament.