The fourth round of the Cable & Wireless Summer Sevens Series took place at the South Sound Rugby Club last Saturday.
After a wet couple of days the pitch was heavy and players clearly struggled to keep their footing. Kit that was white before the start of a game would soon be brown and muddy, with occasional downpours creating some confusion as to whether the game was rugby or water polo.
In spite of the weather a party atmosphere reigned at the club, with fans and families gathering for a fun afternoon out, as spectators lent their vocal support to the players, from the relative shelter of the clubhouse porch of course.
Going into this round, O’Neill’s Wolfhounds were the firm favourites in the Premier division after claiming the second and third rounds of the competition.
They also held the lead in the tournament standings with 48 points, followed by the Cable & Wireless National Sevens team on 42 points.
The defending champions, Deloitte AmaTsotsi, sat in third on 36 points, with the young Maples Academy team bringing up the rear on six points.
The Cable & Wireless National Sevens Squad definitely had something to prove in the fourth round.
After winning the first round of the series, they have been slipping down the standings, finishing second in the second round, and third in the third round.
The team was dead set again finishing fourth and last in the fourth round, but would face their biggest challenge in their opening game of the day where they faced the Wolfhounds.
The wet weather made holding on to opponents and the ball difficult, which certainly counted against the Cable & Wireless National team, as they missed a number of tackles, allowing the Wolfhounds to burst through the defensive line for a number of tries.
In spite of some valiant attempts, the National team could not cross the Wolfhounds’ try line, and at the final whistle the 22-0 score line did not do them justice.
Defending champions Deloitte AmaTsotsi faced Maples Academy in their first game of the day and from the very start showed that they could well be the team to beat with powerful runs and excellent handling.
However, the team soon showed a chink in their armour as constant subbing of out of shape players meant their game lacked some continuity.
Maples Academy tried to exploit this weakness by launching tactical kicks over the heads of the AmaTsotsi, forcing them to turn around and run.
Although the premise was sound, it did not result in any points as AmaTsotsi claimed a 22-0 win.
The Wolfhounds claimed their second win of the day when they took down Maples Academy 30-10, and seemed well on their way to their third consecutive first place finish.
AmaTsotsi faced a much tighter Cable & Wireless defence in their second game of the day, but still managed a 10-0 victory in spite of some excellent play on the part of the youngsters from the National team.
This set up a must-win game for the Cable & Wireless National team against the Maples Academy team as the two fought it out for a third place finish on the day.
The National team, which had been improving throughout the day, came together much better against Maples Academy, finally managing to get their first points of the day on the scoreboard.
Their defence also held up, as the National team claimed a well-deserved 19-0 win over Maples Academy.
The final game of the day pitted AmaTsotsi against O’Neill’s Wolfhounds for all the marbles.
With two wins apiece, the teams would leave it all on the field as they fought for first place. It was a hard-hitting game with neither team pulling any punches, but at the final whistle it was defending champs AmaTsotsi who claimed their first round of the season with a 26-12 win.
The result leaves O’Neill’s Wolfhounds at the top of the standings on 62 points, followed by AmaTsotsi on 56 points, and the Cable & Wireless National team on 50 points.
This means that the final round scheduled for 18 October will have three teams in the running for the Premier Division title.
Should the Wolfhounds take the win in the final round, they will take the title. The same applies to AmaTsotsi, who will also be able to claim the overall title with a win.
For the national team, things become a bit more mathematical. Should they take the win in the final round, with AmaTsotsi in second position and the Wolfhounds in third, all three teams will finish the tournament on 70 points apiece.
The overall title will then be decided on points difference, which can still change dramatically in the final round.
In the Social Division, Maples kept up their relentless push for the title, claiming their fourth round in a row and take an insurmountable points lead into the final round of the tournament.
RE/MAX Tarnished Turtles occupy the second position on the points ladder, with RE/MAX Knackers and Al La Kebab Clydesdales in third and fourth respectively.
In the Women’s Division the Club Select side claimed yet another round over the National side, but it was a closely contested affair.
The first of the three games went the way of the National side, with a 17-10 win, with the second round going to the Club Select side 10-0.
The third game of the day was an even tighter affair, ending in a rare 10-10 draw. However, with a somewhat better points difference on the day, the Club Select side walked off with the win.
The fifth and final round of the Cable & Wireless Summer Sevens Series is scheduled to take place on 18 October at the South Sound Rugby Club and will serve as final preparation for the National team before they head off to the World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to take place in the Bahamas from 25 to 26 October.