It was summer and the West Country had everything on offer over the weekend of the 29-30 Jun 13, Glastonbury Festival and Newquay Surf 7s were both in the diary and the sun was set to shine, this was planned to be a great weekend. So, it was up early to be met by Cornwall’s sea mist driving in from the north which gave a unique chill to the atmosphere and conditions of the day.
Team assembled and ready, the first opponents of the day in the pool stages were North Wales Exiles, a team with punch and players from the GB series, this was going to be a contest for the first game of the day. We were not wrong, from the kick off the Reds were staved off the ball with over 5 minutes in the first half camped out within the 22 defending every attack that kept coming in force. Finally the defence broke to see the Welsh scoring a converted try which also demonstrated some exceptional kicking skills to see the Reds 7-0 down at the break. The second half started the same as the first stretching our defence to score in the right hand corner giving the Welsh a 14-0 lead. Never wanting to give up, the Reds continued to battle and deservedly gained the rewards for their efforts to score in the dying seconds to give a final score of 14-7 to the Welsh and something to think over for the rest of the day.
After a team talk and reflection, the Reds were up against Zoo Sports Ronin 7s a team which is respected within the Army for their core values towards sport, sadly the Reds was bruised from the last game but came out fighting for every ball and ounce of possession. Determined not to lose, the Reds ran in two unanswered tries to give a lead 14-0 at the break. The second half started in the same manner with some fluid running lines and passes going to hand to see another two tries being scored to see the Reds win 26-0. It was good to see the determination and focus back with the team, the steely edge in accuracy and, more importantly, supporting each other through phases of play.
Final pool stages were against Colbalt Crusaders, a team who have played throughout the season, which is respected for their commitment in the contact zone and ability to score tries from every area of the park. With the Army receiving the ball from the kick off, they applied pressure on a continuous basis to force gaps in the opposition to finally see LCpl Bishop demonstrate his pace to blast around the outside of the defence and score the Reds first try. After the restart, the Reds applied pressure to finally see a turn over collected by LCpl Bishop to score his second try, giving a 10-0 lead at the break. From the restart the Reds lost the contact to see Colbalt scoring in the left corner with some excellent ball skills and running lines. The Reds didn’t drop their heads and won the subsequent restart to see them apply immediate pressure and, newly selected for promotion to Sergeant, and Captain of the team, Cpl Tamatawale, blast up the middle of the park leading by example and scoring a try under the posts to give a final score of 17-5 to the Reds.
So it was on to the semi finals and up against one of the UKs leading 7s teams, Apache, who had won their pool and came to the game with confidence. From the kick off this was going to be a great game with both teams applying pressure at every contact or phase of the game. Bone shattering tackles led by Cpl Swann turned over many balls to let the Army maintain the majority of possession and seeing two unconverted tries scored by each team resulting in a score at the break of 5-5. Calm words spoken by the coaching staff, the Reds came out fired up and ready to play, winning the ball from the restart the Reds applied pressure which saw LCpl Bishop turn on the gas to score a try within the 2nd minute of the half. This shocked Apache moving them to turn on the pressure until the dominance of Cpl Swann turned over the ball allowing the Reds score under posts in the 5th minute. In the final stages of the game, Apache didn’t give up, scoring a try in the last minute to see the final score 17-12 to the Reds and a final beckoning.
On to the finals with the Reds defending their title and grip to the cup, warm up completed, totally focused, the boys were ready for the match. What a contest it promised to be as the other finalists were Cornish Pirates, the local favorites and a team that stormed to the finals having beaten North Welsh Exiles in a dominant manner, this had the ingredients to be a final to be remembered. From the kick off the Reds sealed the ball and applied pressure with the skipper leading the way by scoring the first try after carving up the middle of the field to score under the posts. From the restart, the Pirates gained possession and drove up the field to score under the Reds posts in the 3rd minute balancing the score. Not wanting to take a step backwards, the Reds led by the skipper, Cpls Tamatawale, Koroiyadi and Swann led every charge in the contact zones to regain possession seeing two tries being scored by LCpls Bishop and Bulikioba giving the Reds a lead of 21-7 at the break. Fired up, the restart of the second half saw the Reds on fire stealing the ball to see Sgt Bradley dancing up the park to score a converted try between the posts. Not turning off the gas, the Reds remained dominant to score a second try by LCpl Bishop showing his heals to the Pirates around the outside of the opposition. Not wanting to be left out, Cpl Tamatawle and LCpl Kapaiwai scored two unanswered tries to see the final score of 43-7. A classic comment from one of the spectators “no one was going to beat the Army with that much passion and I am a Pirates supporter”.
For a new team it was great to continue the winning ways as the guys are all developing, but more importantly, the manner the team personally developed over the day was impressive, especially on the same day that the country celebrated “Armed Forces Day”. For all of us in the Armed Forces and the 7s team, we thank every one of our supporters – God Bless and Thank You.
Finally the Reds would like to congratulate two players this week on being selected for promotion, Cpl Tamatawale and LCpl Evans, both have been outstanding servants to the team and 7s in general – well done.