Avatiu Nikao Eels’ sturdy display in the knockouts has earned the team its back-to-back Steinlager Sevens series title at home over the weekend.
The Eels, led by no-nonsense skipper Clive Nicholas, once again came from behind to beat Manatoa, made up of local-based players in the national squad, 21-7 in the final to claim the second Steinlager Sevens title on Saturday.
The Eels lost to Manatoa in their opening pool match 5-19 before thrashing Atiu 52-7 in the second group match.
In the semifinals, the reigning Club 15s champions defeated Tupapa Panthers 20-5 while Manatoa overcame Reds 17-10.
In the showdown, the Eels – after a series of attacks at both ends – scored the opening try from nippy playmaker Eneri Ratudradra, before Samu Alafua and Lai Rogorogoivalu added the other two to seal the 21-7 win.
Lanky Sailosi Nagi scored the lone try for the Manatoa side.
Winning skipper Nicholas thanked his players for putting up a brave fight after the early loss. He also encouraged the Manatoa players to keep working hard for the Oceania Sevens next month.
Cook Islands Rugby Union competition co-ordinator Ben Koteka said this was the first time that a one-day tournament of this nature was held.
“It was a good contest, survival of the fittest teams with both finalists playing four matches over a five-hour period from 1pm to 6pm,” he said.
“As part of the programme it was good to also watch some age grade Sevens with the U15 CI Schoolboys team playing three matches against an U16 TKV Reds team that also included players from other clubs.
“Once again, CIRU would like to thank major sponsors Steinlager and The Bond Store for all their support, Avatiu Rugby Club for the use of their fantastic facilities, all the teams, the medics, supporters and especially our referees.”