The Tasman Mako sevens side after winning the South Island tournament in Timaru over the weekend. Photo: Supplied.

Tasman sevens sides qualify for nationals

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The Tasman Men’s sevens side has backed up its team of the year status as they completed a three peat at the regional qualifiers at the weekend.

Tasman went through the Timaru tournament unbeaten to claim the Tofa Shield for the third year in a row and book its spot in nationals.

Fresh off leading Stoke to a Motueka Sevens title, the dynamic Sam Chamberlain led the side to victory over southern rivals Otago, Southland, Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury and Canterbury.

Sam says they went there to win it and remain undefeated.

“We did that and are extremely happy as a group to achieve that goal and make it three in a row.”

He credits coach Sam Gibbens for creating a quality team culture with a lot of new faces in the squad. “We had 12 players who could all do a job.”

Sam says Central’s Timoci Tavatavanawai was outstanding all tournament while Jeesse Pitman’s experience was invaluable. He says Stein Schreiber in his first tournament was another standout.

Leading from the front, Sam dotted down four times at the weekend to lead the try scoring charts with Timoci and Te Puoho Stephens.

The side enjoyed comfortable wins over South and Mid Canterbury while also dispatching Southland before meeting Canterbury.

“It was a see-saw affair, they came back and the boys had to show a lot to get up, we scored early and then they put us on the back foot a bit and starved us of possession.”

Tasman held on for a 19-10 win.

“We got back in it and got the job done, it’s always good to beat Canterbury.”

Tasman then met Otago in its final game.

“We still had to beat Otago to win it outright, so it was effectively like a final.”

Tasman took the win 36-10.

The side now switches focus to nationals in Tauranga on December 15-16.

The women’s side also qualified for the national tournament after finishing third.

Skipper Jess Drummond says it was a challenging weekend but ultimately a successful one for her side.

“I was super proud with the whole team but in particular with our young girls that really stepped up and played their hearts out.”

Tasman went down to Otago 12-10 in game one which saw it miss out on first/second playoff.

A 15-12 win over Southland ensured the women finished one better than 2017 and will make its debut at the national tournament.