A scintillating display of rugby saw Otago narrowly defeated in the final of the National Sevens in Queenstown.
In a well-contested final, holders Auckland managed to beat the South Islanders 36 – 24 despite having a player sent off in the final minutes.
Thousands of sun-drenched rugby fans enjoyed an epic two days of closely-fought matches during the popular annual event at Wakatipu Rugby Club.
Surprise finalists Otago had the full backing of the partisan crowd but were undone by some powerful play by the North Islanders.
Otago had cruised through the semis beating Canterbury 31-0 but faced worthy opponents in Sunday afternoon’s final.
Spectator John Redmond, 23, says: “It has been a great couple of days.
“We thought Otago might do it – they were fairly close at half time and had a chance when Auckland had a man sent off.
“It’s a shame but they all gave a good account of themselves.”
Auckland beat Waikato to make the final and claim their 11th National Sevens title.
Otago player Buxton Popoali’I picked up the Joe Tauiwi memorial trophy for the player for the tournament, but his lone try was not enough for Otago.