Sevens rugby has wrapped up for a while and the national team is in the Bahamas for the regional championships tomorrow and Sunday.
The finals of the Cable & Wireless Summer Sevens Series took place on Saturday at the South Sound Rugby Club. Unlike the previous leg of the series which was played in rainy conditions, the final was blessed with excellent weather, and saw a much bigger spectator turnout.
The motivation was certainly there for supporters to come out and cheer on their team, with three teams still in the running for the overall title.
Going into the final leg, O’Neill’s Wolfhounds held a narrow lead over Deloitte AmaTsotsi, with the Cable & Wireless National VII squad still within striking distance as well.
The first Division One game of the day featured the Wolfhounds taking on the National Squad, for whom this would be a make or break game.
If they wanted to keep their title hopes alive, they would have to improve their points difference as well as claim the overall win.
The National side looked promising at the start, putting the first points on the board with a well deserved try and a successful conversion to take a 7-0 lead.
However, their elation was short-lived, as the Wolfhounds battled back to take the lead. Ferocious defence and ball retention meant that the National VII were never able to cross the Wolfhounds’ line again, while the Wolfhounds kept building on their lead.
At the final whistle the Wolfhounds claimed a comfortable 24-7 win, leaving little doubt that they would be very hard to unseat from the top of the standings.
AmaTsotsi looked in imperious form in their first game against the Maples Academy side, with superb running and excellent ball handling. The side seemed to score more or less at will, as they ran out 29-0 winners.
With the top two teams in the league standings scoring dominant wins, the series seemed set for a clash of the titans in the final game.
However, the National VII picked themselves up after their first game beating and came out fired up against AmaTsotsi.
In a hard-fought encounter, both teams managed two tries apiece but failed to score a conversion, as the game concluded in a 10-10 draw.
Maples Academy put up a spirited fight in their second game of the day when they took on the Wolfhounds. Maples were much more competitive than in their first game, and managed to run in two tries, but unfortunately that was not enough to overcome the Wolfhounds, who took the game 26-12, thereby cementing their status as favourites for the final game of the day.
The National VII closed their campaign optimistically. After the losing their first game and drawing their second, the team demonstrated what they are capable of when they took on Academy.
The team used their speed and skills to cut through the Academy’s defensive line and amassed a massive 31 points to steamroller the Academy side into submission.
This final local game certainly augurs well for the team’s trip to the NAWIRA regional Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers being held in the Bahamas this weekend.
In the Social Division Maples continued their dominant form, winning all three games and claiming their fifth weekend win in a row, thereby running away with the series title.
The RE/MAX Tarnished Turtles finished the series as runners-up, with RE/MAX Knackers and Al La Kebab Clydesdales taking up the minor positions.
The final game between AmaTsotsi and Wolfhounds would not only decide the winner on the day, but the winner of the series title.
On paper it promised to be a humdinger and it certainly turned out that way, with both teams aware that there was no point in saving themselves. Bodies and reputations were put on the line, with crunching tackles leaving a number of players contemplating whether it was really worth getting up just to get taken down again.
It was a closely contested game, but unlike their first game of the day, AmaTsotsi seemed out of sorts and failed to maintain possession for long enough to put any points on the board.
The Wolfhounds managed to run in two tries as they exploited gaps in the AmaTsotsi defence, and managed to hold off the AmaTsotsi onslaught even while they were one man down due to a yellow card.
At the close, the Wolfhounds could celebrate not only another win, but also the overall series title, ending a two year run by AmaTsotsi, who finished the series in second place.
The National VII finished third on the day and in the series, followed by the Academy side in fourth.
The Wolfhounds were presented with the Estella Scott Trophy by Cable & Wireless representative Ken Guiste, while David Burton was awarded the Peter O’Neill Memorial Trophy as best player of the tournament.