Auckland beat surprise finalists Taranaki 36-26 to win 2011’s National Rugby Sevens in hot conditions in Queenstown.
Taranaki – who beat tournament favourites Bay of Plenty to make the final – led Auckland 19-12 at halftime.
To most of the crowd’s delight Taranaki pushed that lead in this afternoon’s final (Sunday) out to 26-12 but then conceded three tries.
Auckland, who won the sevens four years in a row – from 2005 to 2008 – were below their best over the past two years and were paying $6 at the TAB to win this year.
This morning Auckland convincingly beat Otago 38-12.
North Harbour were surprise winners of the Plate final – they beating Waikato, 47-15, after leading 26-0 at halftime.
Waikato won last year’s tournament but earlier today were beaten 19-12 in a thriller by last year’s runners-up, Bay of Plenty, in the quarter-finals.
In the Bowl final, Manawatu won 12-7 against last year’s Bowl winners, Horowhenua Kapiti.
Canterbury, which didn’t attend last year’s sevens for financial reasons, beat Tasman 43-7 in the Shield final after leading 17-0 at halftime – Tasman were Shield winners last year.
Canterbury beat Northland to avoid the wooden spoon in the 16-team competition, but earlier suffered the ignominy of being beaten by South Canterbury for the first time.
Canterbury were also beaten 17-12 by Horowhenua Kapiti.
Auckland player Malakai Fetikoa was named player of the two-day tournament.
Yesterday’s crowd, who purchased 12,000 cans of beer, numbered 4100.
Numbers today reached about 5000.
Queenstown has hosted the National Rugby Sevens since 2004.