NELSON Bay broke a 17-year finals drought when they made it through to the second round of the play-offs in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union last season.
They won’t have to wait that long for their next trip to the semis if the pre-season is any indication.
The Gropers came from 21-7 down to beat hosts Hamilton 26-21 in the Country final of the Mick “Whale” Curry Memorial Sevens at St John Oval on Saturday.
Chad Northcott, Michael Hotene and Nathan Oliver starred as the Gropers made the most of a man extra to overhaul the Hawks.
Hamilton forward Tiueti Asi was given a red card for tripping just before half-time in the final. The Haws were then reduced to five men for two minutes after Col Mulhearn was given a yellow card for a professional final.
“Playing a man down, and at one stage two men down, certainly didn’t help us, but the Bay deserved the win,” Hamilton coach Scott Coleman said. “They are a good side and have put together a strong sevens campaign.”
The Gropers, who won the plate division at the Crescent Heads Sevens, finished top of group B before accounting for Maitland 17-12 in the quarter-final and Lakes A 17-10 in the semi.
Hamilton finished first in Group A and beat Newcastle University 36-5 and Kempsey 27-10 on the way to the final.
Gordon accounted for fellow Sydney club Easts 22-17 to take out the premier men’s final and Warringah were too strong for Stingers in the premier women.
In the junior divisions, Hamilton overpowered Merewether 27-0 in the under-16 girls and Gordon beat Western Sydney Two Blues 7-5 in the under-19’s men.
Australian sevens women’s team stars Emma Tonegato, Dominique Du Toit, Yasmine Meakes and Lauren Brown attended the weekend.
“The Aussie girls were awesome,” Coleman said. “They got in and helped the junior girls teams do their warm-ups, ran the water for them and were providing coaching tips.”