Following an epic journey across the border to Scotland the Army 7s headed up Pool C on a grey and grizzly morning at Rugby Rocks Edinburgh. The season has been very successful for the team thus far and the focus was ensuring it stayed that way, tucked around the corner on the bottom pitches the team prepared for their first pool match of the day against Burrda Sports Ronin 7s. A side we are very familiar with on the 7s circuit but even more so this weekend as Army stars Jack Prasad and Peceli Nacavamuto featured in their line up alongside soldiers from local Regiments 1 and 2 SCOTS, all good friends off the pitch but a clash of the titans was to ensue on it. The Reds needed to establish their mark on this match early on which they did with an early converted try from Ben Seru however in the first match of the day for this pool all the legs were pretty fresh and the Ronin defence was up very quickly looking to push the Reds back. The Army were patient and retained possession, with all the play in the Ronin half phase after phase of play was rewarded with two further tries from Kava, and Nayacavou to lead 19 – 0 at the break. The second half saw Ronin break into the Reds territory for the first time but two opportunist tries stolen and executed by Seru and Vakasawaqa saw the victory sealed at 31-0, an excellent result against a side that some thought may cause an upset early in the competition.
The Flying Fish knew they needed to respond before half time to keep hopes alive and they sniped at every half sniff they got, Reds Captain Gerhard Wessels is a work horse and chased everything but there was one that just got away to make it 14-5 at half time. The second half saw the Flying Fish retain the majority of possession, perhaps they too had been watching the opposition throughout the day as they patiently looked to attack, working the play around the park to try and open the gaps. Wes and Knoxy are epic tacklers in their own right but together they are a force to be reckoned with and they were first to every breakdown challenging for the ball. Their hard work certainly paid off as stolen ball from the contact area set up two final tries for Jerry Cataki to seal the win and a place in the Semi Finals 28-5.
The HWF Wailers awaited the Reds in the Semi, an old favourite on the 7s circuit but a team we had not yet faced this season. The Reds found themselves in an unfamiliar position as the Wailers opened the scoring, skipper Wes rallied the troops and the response came immediately from Jerry Cataki with the extras from Zac making the difference for now. The penalty count had been low for the Reds throughout the day but they seemed to be coming thick and fast as they went either way for each side, the Reds opted to kick for territory and a well worked line out drill on the Wailers 22 saw Zac break through the gap to extended the lead to a slightly more comfortable 14-5. Skipper Wes worked tirelessly alongside big Joe Kava, competing and more often than not winning every ball at the breakdown. The steals allowed the speedsters to break through and a further three tries from Seru, Zac and Cataki sealed a well fought victory and place in the final 33-5.
Not a position we are used to being in but a test for the true character and spirit of this team. The Reds had to respond and that they did, a try each for Jerry Cataki and Joe Kava, both well worked saw the Reds noses just in front at 14-12. A lineout on the Centurions 10meter line was an excellent attacking opportunity for the Reds just before the break and Sikeli crossed to give the slightest of cushions 19-12 at half time. We were in a battle and we certainly knew it. 7 more minutes of blood, sweat and tears. The Centurions came in waves again attacking the Reds wall and in a mirror image of the first half secured two early scores to take the lead 24-19.
If it’s not the end of your game, it’s not the end of your effort. Hold your head high and be proud to say, ‘I fought until the very end.’ The Army 7s team can be very proud. 5 out of 5;
See you all in Swansea for the Cwmtawe 7s on the 4th August.