Auckland win NZ National Sevens
January 13, 2008

Like his mentor Gordon Tietjens in his playing days, Eric Rush is quickly establishing himself as an astute sevens rugby talent spotter and coach.

That was underscored by his Auckland team winning their fourth consecutive national title in Queenstown today.

Rush regarded today's win as the most satisfying of the four as he had lost nine players from last year's squad, and included a few schoolboys in his squad this year.

Auckland beat neighbours Counties-Manukau 24-15 in the final after leading 12-5 at halftime and then 24-5 after two quick tries soon after halftime.

They were never in danger as captain Mana Ashford gave them a quick lead with a try from kickoff and powerful forward Patrick Flavell made it 10-0 two minutes later with the team's second try.

Samu Etuati and Mikaele Pesamino, a member of the Samoan sevens side, crossed soon after halftime.

Counties, coached by another former sevens and All Blacks star Joeli Vidiri, scored three tries through Kaino Kaino (two) and Sherwin Stowers but they never really threatened Auckland.

Otago surprisingly eliminated Canterbury in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.

After losing narrowly to Auckland in the last piece of action in their pool match yesterday, Otago had the last say against Canterbury, with Karne Hesketh crossing for the winner in their 19-17 victory.

After the first day's pool play, Canterbury were looking like the best side in the tournament.

Results from the national sevens rugby tournament in Queenstown today.-

Final: Auckland 24 (Mana Ashford, Patrick Flavell, Samu Etuati, Mikaele Pesamino tries; Ashford 2 con), Counties Manukau 15 (Kaino Kaino 2, Sherwin Stowers tries). Halftime: 12-5.

Semifinals: Auckland 17 Taranaki 5, Counties 31 Otago 15

Quarterfinals: Auckland 15 North Harbour 0, Counties 33 BOP 15, Taranaki 12 Manawatu 17, Otago 19 Canterbury 17

Plate final Manawatu 33 BOP 33-21

Bowl final: Wellington 34 Northland 0

Shield final: Tasman 38 Horowhenua-Kapiti 12

Player of the tournament: David Raikuna (Counties)

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