• Havelock North fifth at Sevens nationals

Havelock North fifth at Sevens nationals

Jesse Paewai had plenty to celebrate with his Havelock North Sevens teammates at the weekend.

Days after becoming a father for the first time, Paewai, scored a try on the hooter to tie the score at 10-all as Havelock North took on Otago University in the plate final at the National Club Sevens tournament in Auckland on Saturday. Former All Black Sevens representative Trinity Spooner-Neera slotted the conversion from 10 metres in from  touch. 

"While we didn't repeat our top four finish from last year considering the squad we had and our late withdrawals Doc [coach Murdoch Paewai] and I were rapt with our fifth placing," manager Tom Blake said.

Two-time world champion with the New Zealand Secondary Schools team in 2018 and '19, Latrell Smiler-Ah Kiong withdrew with an injury on Friday morning and Hugh Renton withdrew after being called into the Highlanders Super squad on Wednesday night. Twelve months earlioer Renton was forced to withdraw from the villagers nationals campaign after being called into the Crusaders side.

In their pool matches Havelock North beat Linton 14-7 and Otago University 24-7. This gave them a quarterfinal berth against Christchurch which they lost 22-7.

"In that quarterfinal we drifted away from what worked for us in the previous two games. We didn't have the ball for long periods and started to panic," Blake recalled.

"Before our plate semifinal against Te Puna Doc gave the boys some stern words and we changed things up with our warm up. The boys responded well and we won 29-5 against Te Puna who knocked us out in the semifinals last year," Blake explained.

"In the plate final the Otago boys stepped it up a level and both teams gave it to each other until the final whistle," Blake said.

Hosts Ardmore Marist retained the Championship title.

The full Havelock North squad was:

Trinity Spooner-Neera (co-captain), Jesse Paewai (co-captain), Jacob Stephenson, Liam Udy-Johns, Trent Hape, Sam Walton-Sexton, Cooper Flanders, Ben Kelt, Teihana Brown, Kalin Paewai, Isaac Paewai.