BOP hit top gear as Coun­ties fall

Sunday News - - RUGBY -

DE­FEND­ING men’s cham­pi­ons Coun­ties-Manukau made a mess of their sev­ens ti­tle de­fence, los­ing twice in three rounds in Ro­torua yes­ter­day.

Drawn in a tough pool with 2017 beaten fi­nal­ists Waikato, Coun­ties-Manukau opened in style with a 45-12 drub­bing of Wan­ganui, then lost 19-12 to Waikato and by the same score to Taranaki.

Waikato and Taranaki had drawn 12-12 in their tour­na­ment open­ers, with Waikato just reg­is­ter­ing the best points dif­fer­en­tial in the pool by down­ing Wan­ganui 45-5, com­pared to a 42-5 vic­tory by Taranaki. Sec­ond seeds Bay of Plenty romped to three wins, down­ing Auck­land 24-14 in the cru­cial game in their pool. They had started strongly with a 43-0 win over Mid Can­ter­bury, then pro­duced hard-fought vic­to­ries over Can­ter­bury (19-10) and Auck­land.

Tas­man also ran through day one un­beaten, with fourth seeds Manawatu up­set first up 19-26 by Otago.

Coun­ties-Manukau fared bet­ter in the women’s com­pe­ti­tion, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons open­ing with wins over Hawke’s Bay and South­land, be­fore Auck­land GETTY IMAGES roughed them up 38-5.

Auck­land won all three games on day one, to be in omi­nous form along­side Waikato, who con­ceded only five points in their open­ing two matches. Six­teen men’s teams and 12 women’s teams are com­pet­ing in the two-day tour­na­ment at Ro­torua In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium.

All Blacks Sev­ens coach Clark Laid­law and Black Ferns Sev­ens coach Al­lan Bunt­ing are in Ro­torua, with an eye to fi­nal­is­ing their con­tracted squads for the year.

Both sides are tar­get­ing the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast in April and the Rugby World Cup Sev­ens.

Bay Of Plenty flyer Luke Masirewa causes havoc against Auck­land in their 24-14 win.

Crys­tal Mayes makes a break for Manawatu against Welling­ton.

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