AUCKLAND WON its 11th national sevens title, beating Otago 36-24 in the final in Queenstown yesterday.
The Wayne Pivac-coached side – who lost to Manawatu and needed to come from behind to beat Hawke’s Bay on the opening day – overcame Taranaki and Waikato earlier on day two of the tournament to reach the decider.
A young Auckland outfit then overcame a 17-12 halftime deficit in the final to claim the title.
Otago looked like the team to beat on day two, beating the previously unbeaten Manawatu in the quarter-finals and Canterbury in the semifinals.
Auckland, meanwhile, pipped Taranaki 17-12 in the quarters, before overcoming Waikato in extra time in the semis.
In the final, a try in the corner just before halftime by former New Zealand representative Paul Grant saw Otago take a five-point lead into the break.
However, second half tries to Tenina Sauileoge, Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Lam and Alex Samoa secured the win for Auckland.
Otago did not leave empty-handed, though, with Buxton Popoali’i being named the player of the tournament.
Otago 31-5 Manawatu
Canterbury 19-17 Wellington
Waikato 19-7 North Harbour
Otago 31-0 Canterbury
Auckland 36-24 Otago
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.