Auckland schools spoiled the local party at the Anchor AIMS Games rugby sevens finals, with Pt England and Royal Oak taking home the major silverware.
Royal Oak overcame a plucky Mount Maunganui side 19-10 in the girls’ final to win their seventh title in eight years, while Pt England upset Tauranga Intermediate in the boys’ final 26-14.
Vice-captain TJ Paniani led the charge for Pt England, scoring two first-half tries as the Auckland school raced out to a 21-0 lead at the break, suffocating the Tauranga side that had already beaten them twice in this tournament.
“We stayed up all night focusing on Tauranga because we knew they were good,” Paniani said. “Everything about them was good – their fitness, their height, their attack, their defence – so we just wanted to test them and we’re just so proud to be able to take the trophy home.”
Tevita Naufahu and Flynlay Kake also scored for Pt England, with Kake adding three conversions, while Tauranga could only manage a couple of consolation tries, the last to Jackson Te Pou on the final whistle.
Royal Oak flyer Jemima Katoa broke Mount Maunganui hearts, meanwhile, launching spectacular tries from 60m and 50m out either side of halftime, despite fleeting scraps of possession.
“It felt good that I made my team proud and I’m so happy that I got two tries against Mount Maunganui because they’re a hard team,” Katoa said.
Alena Hosking had opened the scoring for Mount Maunganui, crashing over in the corner and at 5-7 down at the break, they were right in it.
Katoa’s second and a great try from Moana Tuwhangai, powering through the midfield from a worked scrum move, took the perennial champions out of reach, however, despite Annilees Hill’s late try for Mount.