Rams stumble at national sevens
A distracted second-half against Massey cost the Upper Hutt Rams dearly at the national club rugby sevens in Hamilton on the weekend.
The Rams, the Wellington champions, had to settle for a top four finish when they were beaten 24-7 by Massey in a game they looked to have under control.
A Daniel Schrijvers try had the Rams leading their North Harbour opposition 7-0 and looking set to score again right on halftime when an overly ambitious pass gifted the opposition a counter-attacking scoreline matcher.
‘‘It was pretty rough. We were hot on attack when that happened and they seemed to get really motivated from there and rode away with it at the end,’’ the Rams’ captain Hayden Schrijvers said.
Earlier, in a big quarter-final in the opening game on day two, Upper Hutt were at their best in beating Melville. Selesi Rayasi put Max Pearson away for a long run late in the game which was won 17-12.
Melville, the defending champions, were playing on their home ground before a big crowd, Schrijvers said.
‘‘We were a bit nervous about that game and winning that left us pretty happy.’’
On the Saturday, the competition’s first day, Upper Hutt began their tough pool play with a 28-12 loss to Auckland’s Eden.
They then beat Awanui (21-12) and Ardmore Marist (26-12) to set up the big clash with Melville.
Eden went on to beat Massey 26-7 in the final to take the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup for 2017.
‘‘So the two teams we lost to went on to play the final but it was disappointing to be close again,’’ Schrijvers said.
The Rams had hoped to go one better after finishing as beaten finalists in 2016. They also made the top four in the three previous years. Coach Nathan Williams said his side was left lamenting another one that got away.
‘‘We were really good in beating Melville, that was a big game but I do find myself wondering if that proved to be our final. The competition is getting stronger every year too.
‘‘Some of the Auckland sides played with a style of game where they looked to stay out of the contact area a lot of time and then attack the space around that.
‘‘It was something we hadn’t really seen before,’’ Williams said.
Upper Hutt’s Selesi Rayasi grapples with Melville’s Luke Masirewa in quarter-final action from the national club sevens.