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New Zealand League 7's selectors, Graeme Norton, Duane Mann and John Ackland will really have their work cut out for them following day one of the Scottwood National 7's Tournament held at North Harbour Stadium today. The talent and skills on display would make the task difficult for the most experienced selectors, something these guys are. Tomorrow afternoon they will name the NZ Residents squad to play in the St Mary's Invitation 7's in Sydney on February 12 & 13. The abating of the heat and humidity that has been Auckland recently, meant that the teams were competing in almost perfect playing conditions. Unfortunately the morning rain obviously scared a lot of fans away, as day one of the tournament was fairly poorly attended. If I suggest there was 1100 folks there at it's peak, I would probably be being very generous. The hardy punters who attended, however, were treated to a fete of League 7's. Just how good is it to witness teams from Hawkes Bay, Otago, Taranaki, Gisbourne/Tairawhiti, the West Coast and provincial Canterbury competing on a league field in Auckland. How good is it....it's damn good. It's damn good and even better that every team is competitive and given the right nuturing you would have to think that a lot of these teams, in a fairly short time frame, could be competing at a national level in the 13 man game. With 20 teams competing in five pools you would reasonably expect that there may be a little biffo along the way. No, every game played was played in excellent spirit and I can count the pentalties awarded for foul play on one hand. A pretty good result for thirty games. The day produced no major upsets, although the provincial Canterbury side (as opposed to the Canterbury Bulls) came within a whisker of upsetting the mighty Mt Albert Lions. The Cantabs lead the entire game with Mt Albert grabbing the lead and the win right on the hooter. In the the first half of the Gisbourne/Tairawhiti versus Hibiscus Coast Raiders, the team from Poverty Bay got out to a very lead. Inuargural Scottwood Cup winners, Hibiscus Coast Raiders, had to pull everything out of their arsenal to get the game back on track and run out winners. Just on the Raiders it was interesting to note the return of centre, Shaun Ata, after a stint with the Penrith Panthers club. So, who were the standouts. Time and space does not permit because there were more than a few. Some players though, do deserve special mention. Daniel Floyd from the Hibiscus Coast Raiders. Josh Davis and Wesley Henry from Wellington. Wesley Henry had an absolutely awesome day. It takes a bit to impress this old writer but I was impressed - this bloke is so strong. For the Otago side, Robbie Rameka was head and shoulders. Gisbourne/Tairawhiti produced an amazing number 7 by the name of Storm Kiddie. This young bloke is slightly built but his enthusiasm and skills are a delight to watch. For the Waicoa Bay team, Heyden Kerena was the absolute goods. Gee, is this guy a future Kiwi half or not. Canterbury Bulls regular second rower, Chris Newton, is a guy who reminds me so much of Nathan Hindmarsh - not in size, but the body shape is all wrong, the loping gait seems more suited to a trotter, the centre of gravity is all up the creek but can this guy play. He's an absolute try scoring machine. Tangi Ropati for the Marist Richmond franchise was extremely classy and I'll be very surprised if he doesn't pay a visit to St Mary's shortly. There are so many more and I wouldn't be a selector for quids. Can't wait for tomorrow. More fantastic 7's footy. Finals time in Bowl, Plate and Cup......and then the squad announcement.
RESULTS: DAY 1 - Saturday 5 February 2005, North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Otago Taranaki Sharks NZ Defence Force Hawkes Bay Gisborne/Tairawhiti Eastern Tornadoes West Coast Northland
10.00 am (Game 11) 10.20 am (Game 12) Qualifier 13 v Qualifier 20 Qualifier 14 v Qualifier 19 Otago Northland Taranaki Sharks West Coast
10.40 am (Game 13) 11.00 am (Game 14) Qualifier 15 v Qualifier 18 Qualifier 16 v Qualifier 17 NZ Defence Force Eastern Tornadoes Hawkes Bay Gisborne/Tairawhiti
12.40 pm (Game 15) 1.00 pm (Game 16) Winner Game 11 v Winner Game 13 Winner Game 12 v Winner Game 14
SCOTTWOOD BOWL FINAL: 2-40 pm (Game 17) Winner Game 15 v Winner Game 16 SCOTTWOOD BOWL WINNER:
SCOTTWOOD PLATE ? DAY 1 QUALIFIERS 7 To 12
North Harbour Tigers Mt Albert Lions Canterbury Bulls Glenora Bears Canterbury Provincial Counties Manukau Jetz
11.20 am (Game 6) 11-40 am (Game 7) Qualifier 9 v Qualifier 11 Qualifier 10 v Qualifier 12 Canterbury Bulls Canterbury Prov Glenora Bears Counties Manukau
1.20 pm (Game 8) 1-40 pm (Game 9) Qualifier 7 v Winner Game 6 Qualifier 8 v Winner Game 7 North Harbour Mt Albert
SCOTTWOOD CUP ? DAY 1 WINNERS OF EACH POOL + QUALIFIER 6
Hibiscus Coast Raiders Marist Richmond Brothers Otahuhu Ellerslie Central Falcons Waicoa Bay Stallions Wellington
12.00 am (Game 1) 12.20 pm (Game 2) Qualifier 3 v Qualifier 5 Qualifier 4 v Qualifier 6 Otahuhu Ellerslie Waicoa Bay Central Falcons Wellington
2.00 pm (Game 3) 2.20 pm (Game 4) Qualifier 1 v Winner Game 1 Qualifier 2 v Winner Game 2 Hibiscus Coast Marist Richmond