The British Army put on a masterful display to capture a maiden National Series win at the Manchester Sevens. Facing leaders Samurai International in the final, the Army recovered from an early deficit to emerge victorious 15-26 at Heywood Road’s Sale FC.
The British Army put on a masterful display to capture a maiden National Series win at the Manchester Sevens.
Facing Samurai International in the final, the Army recovered from an early deficit to emerge victorious 15-26 at Heywood Road’s Sale FC.
Overall Series leaders Samurai must now wait to see if they can be crowned National Series champions at the conclusing leg in Newquay (July 17). The Army have closed the gap at the top of the table to just eight points.
Another core side, Raging Bull Ronin, enjoyed their first win of the Series and then went on to claim the Plate beating guests Great Britain Students.
In a re-run of the West Country Sevens final, it was Samurai starting the stronger with John Brake’s electric break opening the scoring.
After a period of sustained possession Samurai increased their advantage with cross-code legend Henry Paul delivering a sumptuous pass to Gavin Dacey to make it 10-0.
A bone crunching Joe Kava hit seemed to galvanise the servicemen with Gus Qasevakatini’s try reducing the arrears to 10-7 at the break.
The second periods started at a frenetic pace, with the Army finding their rhythm with Qasevakatini a constant threat. His quick feet and juggling skills set up captain Gerhard Wessells, who converted his own try to push the Army ahead in another epic tussle.
Samurai predictably refused to panic, responding in the best possible fashion with Tom Wiley’s well taken score giving them a 15-12 lead. But the Army were not in a mood to be bow out in another final and when Satala found Qasevakatini on his shoulder, the men in red were back in front.
With Samurai beginning to run out of steam, the effervescent Qasevakatini dealt a final blow, completing his hat-trick and keeping the Series alive at the same time.
The Gilbert Pups enjoyed their most profitable return of the season in grabbing a well deserved semi-final spot.
But they ran into a ruthless and unforgiving Army in the semi-finals. Braces for Qasevakatini and Burenivalu propelled the servicemen into a 24-0 half time lead.
Mark Odejobi pulled one back for the London-based Pups but Qasevakatini's third score highlighted the Army’s dominance.
There was more semi-final anguish for the HFW Wailers, going down to a steely Samurai (17-14) in an intriguing last four clash.
As had been the case throughout the day the Wailers were slow out the traps finding themselves 12-0 down thanks to tries to Wiley and Jamie Hearn.
A typical 50m burst from Hamish Smales pulled the Wailers back into contention but another Wiley try proved a hammer blow.
Steve Parson’s slashing line set up an exciting climax, but Samurai’s ability to maintain possession in the latter stages suppressed the frustrated Wailers.
A new-look Olorun ID qualified for Cup quarter-finals for the first time but ran into Samurai’s Angus Martyn. His first half blitz paved the way for an eventual 33-0 win, with Geoff Griffiths and Hearn also dotting down.
Miles Mantella and Jake Henry built a 14-0 cushion for a dangerous looking Marauders in their last-eight clash with the Wailers. But a second half hat-trick from Jack Smales, brother of fellow Wailer Hamish, established a remarkable 14-21 turnaround for the boys from the north-east.
Guinness Premiership guests Sale Sharks delighted the fans in advancing to the Cup knockouts, but were outclassed by an on song Gilbert Pups.
An aggressive attitude in defence and at the breakdown a feature of the Pups play, as Player of the Tournament James Stephenson (2) and Wynn Roberts (3) inflicted the 43-7 damage.
The Akuma Smurfs went into half-time of their quarter-final against the Army still in contention only 14-5 behind. Alex Walker’s try gave a flicker of hope for a Welsh upset but Burenivalu and Qasevakatini restored order, with the Army getting through 26-12.
Ronin registered an inaugural National Series win when they beat the invited Pacific Warriors (35-21) in the semi-finals. GB Students also made it through to the final via a 26-17 win over a gallant Apache.
But the Students struggled to cope with intensity of Ronin in the final with Ashley Kalnins grabbing a treble supported by Jeff Gregson (2) and Toloi Tevita. The 31-14 result giving Ronin eight morale-boosting points.
National Sevens Series Knockouts - Manchester
Cup Q/F #1 Samurai International 33 Olorun ID 0
Cup Q/F #2 Gilbert Pups 43 Sale Sharks 7
Cup Q/F #3 Army 26 V Smurfs 12
Cup Q/F #4 Marauders 14 V HFW Wailers 21
Plate Semi#1 Ronin 35 Pacific Warriors 21
Plate Semi#2 GB Students 26 Apache 17
Cup Semi #1 Samurai International 17 Wailers 14
Cup Semi #2 Gilbert Pups 7 British Army 38
Plate Final Ronin 31 Pacific Warriors 14
Cup Final Samurai International 15 Army 26
National Sevens Series Group Stages - Manchester (report to follow)
A Samurai International 22 Akuma Smurfs 12
B British Army 29 Pacific Warriors 0
C HFW Wailers 21 Gilbert Pups 22
D Marauders 31 Apache 0
A Samurai International 19 Ronin 7
B British Army 35 Olorun ID 12
C HFW Wailers 26 GB Students 19
D Marauders 29 Sale Sharks 12
A Smurfs 29 Ronin 15
B Pacific Warriors 7 Olorun ID 27
C Gilbert Pups 39 GB Students 0
D Apache 12 Sale Sharks 35
National Sevens Series Standings (after 3 events)
Samurai International 56 (pts)
British Army 48
HFW Wailers 36
White Hart Marauders 32
Gilbert Pups 32
Akuma Smurfs 30
Olorun ID 22
Raging Bull Ronin 16
Rugby Rocks - Samurai International
West Country Sevens - Samurai International
Manchester Sevens - British Army
Newquay Surf Sevens (July 17)