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FEATURE // MIDDLESEX SEVENS


iddlesex was fortunate to be bathed in a comfortably warm mix of cloud and sunshine during a dodgy patch of traditional British summer weather. They were however, less fortunate in their attempts to secure a host of top crowd pulling sides, though this resulted


in an interesting and sometimes exiting mix of different approaches to playing Sevens. There should have been an international line up of England, Wales, Kenya and Brazil, with strong Premiership interest, Samurai International as current holders and Gilbert’s Pups from the Super Sevens Series. The very late withdrawal of the premiership sides to concentrate on their own tournament coupled with international withdrawals because of European commitments, left the organisers reliant on goodwill from elsewhere to make the event possible. They turned to other Super Sevens Series and elite sides, to the Championship and finally Barking, who came within five minutes of achieving Championship status last season. There was also an inspired choice in Durham, the BUCS champions who have dominated the University Sevens scene this summer.


Inevitably the crowd was down


on last year and understandably there were difficulties in working out who to support. Those who came however, were treated to a fascinating examination of the strengths and weakness of different approaches to Sevens; Championship sides full of strong individuals including Sevens specialists but with limited short form experience, versus elite sevens sides, missing some of their players to the clubs but with a summer campaign to develop cohesion; up and coming internationals with a strong team ethos versus experienced internationals with limited time to click; and of course the fearless students. The first round went mainly but not entirely


as might have been predicted. There was a comfortable win for the Army over Apache and an inexperienced Barking demolished by the


Pups. Wooden Spoon were no match for the Marauders and mistakes by Olurun Sharks resulted in a whitewash by Samurai. In a tense encounter with the lead changing hands, Templars sneaked past Scottish 26-19 and in another close match James Love’s hat-trick was the difference between Plymouth and Welsh which finished 28-26. The near shock came in the Durham- Brazil game where the students, showing no regard for the International label, used their speed and mobility to run in two first half tries. Slowly Brazil regained possession, applied pressure and scored the final points to win 14-17 but it was a close shave. The big surprise was the way in which Esher came back from the dead at 17-0 to beat a well organised Wailer’s side 24-26. That they have been playing sevens this season would show throughout the tournament. This sorted out the groups for the Cup and


Plate. In the Plate quarters Apache initially matched Wailers opening try but after Myers restored the lead they were unable to stay with the pace and looked tired as Wailers cruised past them in the second half to win by 31-7. A spirited Barking once again looked outclassed by Wooden Spoon’s superior skills, a solitary if exiting score by Scott Shaw was their only return in a 31-7 defeat. The Scottish versus Durham match was much anticipated and it looked as if Durham would continue to surprise as Pattinson broke through 2 tackles to open the scoring. But after desperate defending near their line Scottish broke free to score under the posts. After that the Durham threat faded and the points were piled on with notably a stylish chip, catch and score by Amor to close the came out 31-5 to Scottish. Finally, lack of team experience showed in an individually strong Welsh side, the game eventually swung in the Shark’s favour with pressure leading to two scores from turnovers after tackles. Welsh rallied at the end but lost out 24-5. In the Cup quarters Esher continued their


run past the Army who, shorn of several regulars all season, notably Lee and Vessels, have looked vulnerable to aggressive defences. Initially leading, they were matched by an


PHOTOGRAPHY: IAN MUIR


Edgerly try then shocked by a second. After the break Army restored a narrow lead, however couldn’t answer a third Esher score. A bright start in the first half by Pups left Marauders playing catch up 17-0. They recovered themselves and had they not first lost the ball over the line before touching down successfully, then maybe it might have been different as both sides looked a little weary. However it was the Pups who found their second wind and scored 3 further tries to win 36-14. Templars made the first breakthrough from a turnover and increased their lead to 12-0 as Brazil struggled to find space. Then the second extravagant chip and catch of the day followed by a second score kept the scores even at half-time. The Templars


14 / www.ukrugbysevens.com / Issue 4


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