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The side ended up winning the playoff for third and fourth, defeating Southland 21-17, but it had to play the bulk of the tournament with only eight players.
The women won three of their four section games before going down 24-7 to Canterbury in the final as both Otago teams qualified for the national tournament next month.
The men’s side was under the pump and coach Kane Jury questioned whether it should have been made to play the third-fourth playoff.
After its first game against North Otago, which it won 26-0, Otago had already lost three players for the day.
Jona Nareki fractured his thumb, captain Chucky Koroi pulled a hamstring and Hemaua Samisoni injured his ankle. Then in the second match, when it beat Mid Canterbury 17-0, youngster Layne Opetia was concussed.
That left the side with eight players for the final pool game against Canterbury, which it lost 26-7.
With just eight available players, playing in the heat and fatigued after some long games. Jury said he asked if he could default the semifinal and third and fourth playoff.
"First of all they said yes and we did not play the semifinal. But they came back to us with about 45 minutes to play that we had to play the playoff," he said.
"That was a massive call for our guys. Normally in sevens you play three games. But at regionals you have to play five, which is a big ask. Then you had the likes of Ben Whale, taping up his knee all the time."
The side managed to beat Southland which Jury said was a huge effort.
He was concerned further players may get injured in the final game.
"Just with the way the game is played and the conditioning of the guys you need 12 people ... so to ask the guys to play the game, when we had already qualified, was hard for them."
He praised the performance of halfback Tala Fagasoaia, playmaker Josh Buchan and forwards Whale and Ben Tuimanufili.Temperatures hovered near 30degC.
The men’s team now looks likely to play Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and North Harbour at the national tournament. It will be touch and go whether Nareki will be available, with his thumb already in plaster. Tasman beat Canterbury in the men’s final.
The Otago women beat Southland 12-10, Hanan Shields 34-5 and then went close to Canterbury, losing 24-20. It then beat Tasman 15-12 to seal its spot in the final.
Coach David Latta was pleased with the performance and especially the new players who performed well.
The standard was high, he said, and the side worked hard throughout.
Sheree Hume and Celine Timoko impressed while Sam Hollows, Angie Sisifa and Mikayla Latta were energetic throughout the day.
The side pushed Canterbury hard in the first game and did well to see off Tasman and Southland, both sides which had targeted Otago. The side came through the tournament with no major injuries.
Southland beat Tasman to also qualify for the tournament.
The North Otago men’s side lost its three pool games and finished seventh.