The Akarana Timbers Pakuranga United 7s team came up just short in recapturing the Middlesex Cup for a second time on the weekend, losing a very tight and tense final 14-28 to Norths from Wellington.
Pakuranga went into the tournament having not played 7s since before Christmas but there were no signs of any rust as the team steam rolled through day one with victories over 2018 finalists Napier Old Boys Marist 24-12, 31-17 over Awanui and 24-17 against Feilding.
“At the end of day one I thought we were one of the top three teams on display and as long as we stayed healthy and maintained our standards, I thought we would go close to making it to the final,” said head coach Mark Dickison.
Day two saw those standards asked for by Coach Dickison immediately on display as Whangarei Old Boys Marist were dispatched 36-10 in one of the team’s best displays of the 7s season. This meant a semi-final against two-times defending champions and tournament hosts Eden.
Pakuranga got off to a quick start scoring three quick tries in the first half to race out to a 15-nil early. Eden, however, are made of stern stuff and came racing back into the match with three tries of their own both sides of half time, converting one to lead 17-15 with time nearly up on the clock.
Coach Dickison played a master stroke bringing on veteran 7s player Aula Silipa to mastermind an attacking raid that swept the length of the field finally finished off by Tika Lelenga in front of some very excited PURC supporters to claim a 22-17 victory and a place in the Middlesex Cup final for only the second time in the club’s history.
Pakuranga started the final the way they had played the two days, immediately putting pressure on Norths to score quickly under the posts to take an early lead 7-nil.
However the Norths side struck back with two converted tries of their own to lead 14-7 at the half. After the half Norths again came out firing quickly racing to a game winning 28-7 lead with another two tries both expertly converted from the touchline.
Pakuranga though came back in the final moments scoring one and just being denied another try to finish runner up in the event.
“Whilst disappointed, I am immensely proud of the boys for giving it everything that had over the two days, a little bit of luck and the bounce of the ball going our way and the result could have been different.
“That said Norths were a class act and played the better of the two teams in the final and they totally deserve their victory, well done to them” added Coach Dickison.
For Pakuranga United Michaile Van Wyk was named the Akarana Timbers PURC player of the tournament for his fantastic play across the two days by Coach Dickison.
“Michaile played brilliantly but also is such a pleasure to coach as he takes what we teach him onto the field and puts it into action, I can’t wait to see what he can achieve at the club in 2019.”
The team would not have made it as far as it did in 2019 without the fantastic support of naming rights sponsor Akarana Timbers and support sponsors Howick Liquorland, PIC Insurance Brokers and Access Solutions.
Focus now turns to the 15s game with pre-season training taking place Monday and Wednesday nights for the boys and Tuesday nights for the girls both at 6.30pm. All past, present and new players welcome.