Northampton take prize in Walsham Sevens
After last year's North Walsham Travis Perkins Sevens, England Sevens manager Mike Friday hailed the event as "one of the best of it's kind in the country".
After last year's North Walsham Travis Perkins Sevens, England Sevens manager Mike Friday hailed the event as "one of the best of it's kind in the country". This year it just got better.
Walsham's director of rugby Jon Curry had fine-tuned the competition, inviting just nine teams to join his own squad for the day.
Winners of the inaugural tournament and ever-presents since, Leicester Tigers included two members of the England Under-19 World Cup squad - Oliver Dodge and Walsham's own Tom Youngs.
Northampton Saints, with no less than seven players who have figured in their Premiership campaign, an England Commonwealth Games silver medallist and a Canadian international, were joined by a galaxy of 'specialist' sides including previous winners Samurai, and the unpredictable but flamboyant Fiji Cavaliers.
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Curry also refined the playing format with the ten teams split into two groups and all the games played on the main pitch, ensuring that the large crowd, which included fans from Leicester and Northampton , were treated to almost non-stop action for over seven-and-a-half hours.
As is traditional, the host club, fielding a mix of youth and experience, were first in action against Samurai and found the opposition just too good for them.
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Leicester and Northampton both started well with good wins as did the Fijians.
Walsham's second game against Cambridge University was closer but no more successful than their first.
With the second round of matches completed the shape of the tournament was beginning to emerge.
The 'Premiership' sides, Samurai and Scorpions, were scoring heavily and looking likely candidates for the semi-finals. Walsham found the winning formula with a 36-7 beating of Warriors - an 'end to end' try by hooker Gideon Rossouw bringing probably the biggest ovation of the day.
Eventually it came down to the final shake up. The semi-finals panned out as expected with Samurai coming from behind to beat Scorpions with the final play of the game 17-14 and Northampton running out 28-14 winners against Leicester in another well contested affair.
In the final Northampton and Samurai produced some classic sevens jockeying for field position before trying to break the defensive line and it was Saints who ran out 17-0 victors to collect a £3,000 cheque from Travis Perkins divisional director Martin Sizeland while Samurai collected £1,000 as runners up.
Between the 'semis' and the final of the main competition there was the final of the local clubs competition sponsored by Woodforde's Brewery, which had been running in tandem on an adjoining pitch and resulted in a win for a Norfolk Barbarians side mainly comprising players from the North Walsham junior section, who defeated Diss 31-5.
It was not the lone success, however, for the hosts as North Walsham defeated Fijian Cavaliers 21-17 in the final of the Plate competition - contested by the third side in each group and sponsored by Wood Farm Contracting.