On Saturday 3 August 2013, the Reds were in Cwmtawe with the prime objective to retain their title. The weather promising to be balanced between rain and sunshine, Pontadawe was ready for the Reds.
The British Army successfully defended their title at the Cwmtawe Sevens, beating Ponty Butchers 29-24 in the final to claim their 7th title in Wales Premier 7s Competition. It was the Army’s 7th Cwmtawe title, but they had to pull out all the stops to fend off the determined challenges from three Welsh sides in Crawshay’s, Carmarthen Warriors and the Butchers which had some exceptional players who operated at academy and national level.
The Warriors and Butchers both led well into the second half of their clashes with the soldiers, but just ran out of steam in thrilling finishes. A young Crawshay’s side, coached by Wales Sevens assistant coach Gareth Williams, also gave the Army far more problems than the 41-12 scoreline suggests in a pool game and had an outstanding player in 20-year-old Bristol University student Steffan Jones. He got the first try of the game but the Army used their huge experience to pull away, with flying wing Ray Bishop grabbing a brace of tries in the process.
The squad, most of whom were Fijian-born soldiers who had all been on active duty in Afghanistan within the last 18 months, looked and were the best side in the tournament but it was heartening for the large crowd to see Welsh talent pushing them hard throughout the competiton. The Warriors took the game to them in the first of the semi-finals with Aberavon’s Steffan Andrews and Richard Carter and Neath’s Gareth King getting tries to take a 19-12 lead after the Army had been down to six men. But tries for Joe Nayacavou (2), Tuvita Tamatawale (2) and Jim Tuitubou were enough for the holders to go through to the final.
The final against Ponty Butchers, a side raised by local Pontardawe butcher Clinton Roberts, fielded a nice blend of young Ospreys Academy players and experienced men such as ex-Neath wing Kevin James. They had seen off Hampshire-based Marauders 31-5 in the other semi-final and all but brought off the shock of the day in the final. Two terrific tries from young Osprey Evan Yardley and one from Dan Roberts against one from Ray Bishop, the only Welshman in the Army side, made it 17-7 at the break. However, in typical Army style, the Reds refocused scoring tries from Nayacavou, Tamatawale and Burenivalu fashioned a 24-17 lead. But right at the death, Italian Luca Gorietti grabbed a converted try to tie the scores and push the match into a sudden-death shootout. Both sides came near to tries through four minutes of cut and thrust before gasman Komaiyasa broke Butchers’ hearts with the tournament winning try between the posts.
Overall it was a great weekend for the Reds and a great journey they have encountered over the season, many thanks for all the support from the spectators of Cwmtawe from the players, management and coaches. For our Manager/Coach, being married to a Welsh woman ensured beating a Welsh team would mean suffering for the rest of the week!