Teams from Auckland dominated the National Touch Tournament over the weekend in Takanini, taking out the Open Men’s, Open Mixed and Open Women’s finals.
After a six year losing streak, Auckland Open Men’s were back to claim their former title from arch-rivals Waikato, sealing the deal 8-7.
Auckland player Takoha Ropati says, “We played Waikato twice in the round robins. We put a plan together and we got the result we wanted. We worked hard for this, training three days a week every week. It hasn't been easy but the hard work has paid off.”
Waikato looked to have it in the bag from the get-go, however in a stunning comeback, Auckland managed two tries in the final minutes to take the lead.
The same teams met in last year's final with Waikato winning- with the same score.
Ropati says, “We returned the challenge this year. When we come back again next year, we'll be ready for battle.”
It was an emotional win for Counties Manukau in the Open Women's final, facing a tough Waikato side. Counties clinched the win 7-6.
Counties Captain Jean Marsh says, “It's been a long time coming. We got pipped in the final last year and I think we felt that fire burning in the belly for the whole year. We went and worked extremely hard. It's immense for us, especially our ladies side. We have a very strong ladies programme in Counties so this is the benchmark for us.”
Waikato held a strong lead in the first half. But after a rev-up at the break Counties found their second win lifting their defence and putting pressure on Waikato lines.
Counties Coach Mack Herewini says, “We were in patches a little bit. I just wanna say we're thankful to come away with the win.
Meanwhile last year's finalist Otago and Auckland battled it out again in the Open Mixed finals.
In the end, Otago were no match for the home side who defended their title with an easy 13-7 win.