Surrounded in a cauldron of beautiful Welsh Valleys the Army 7s team arrived in Swansea for their final competition of the domestic season before they depart to Denver, Colorado next weekend for the International Defence 7s Competition.
A slightly later start than we have experienced so far on our summer tour of the UK premier 7s events afforded the team a relative lie in than normal experienced. So to brush away the early morning cobwebs or in this case mid morning sleepy heads the Reds took to pitch one for their first opponents, Cardiff & District. The Reds set the tone and standard required for the day with a very clean and clinical performance. The first half saw a flurry of tries in a performance that saw the Reds dominate the young opposition in both territory and possession, Vakasawaqa and Cataki both crossing twice. A back line that reads Seru, Speight and Rokodruguni is something quite special to behold indeed, Speight looked rejuvenated returning to the Army 7s set up for the first time this season following injury, slicing through the defence to cross twice himself. Further tries from Bainvalu, Vakasawaqa and Seru sealed the victory 59-5.
Up next came new side Beach Rugby Wales with a young up and coming team, the Reds continued the good form shown earlier in the morning with strong work from the off. Tacklers were bouncing off the Army powerhouses Laqero and Kava, the points tally started to build with a early try from Knoxy, not only is he bullish in defence but pretty quick too. The Welsh saw some early possession but the famous Red wall of defence was up quickly every time driving them back, playing rugby from deep within their own half. Two more tries from Vakasawaqa and Roko gave a fairly comfortable lead 19-0 at the break but still work to be done. The second half mirrored the first seeing Zac and Roko making it two scores each, Roko breaking through tackle after tackle to cross in the corner. A few unforced errors highlighted the talent and potential of our opposition, loose ball in our own half saw the Welsh side capitalised and score their own well worked try. The Reds responded immediately, Knoxy again demonstrating his power and pace, setting off to charge from the Reds 22 to cross for his second try of the match. A final flourish from Roko following quick hands and offloads from Zac and Save Bainvalu finished the match 45-5.
The third and final pool match saw a tough test against our friends from the circuit this season, Carmarthen Warriors who like ourselves have recently seen some of their players feature in the JP Morgan Premiership 7s Competition. The Reds had the early possession but good defence from the Warriors saw them being driven backwards deeper into our own half. Roko and Seru took their chances to give the Reds the early points and lead, our speedsters were out today but the Warriors were not without pace themselves and broke to respond with a try of their own. The Warriors well drilled defence was putting a little pressure on and were sniping sensing possible further opportunities to breach the Reds try line. Army skipper Wessels is renowned for his work rate and covering tackles graced every inch of the pitch. As the ball spilled loose time and time again at competitive breakdowns, quick hands and offloads saw further well worked tries from Cataki, Magnus and Roko. The Reds topped their pool with a 36-5 victory in a very hard fought match, the score perhaps not quite a true reflection of the work rate demonstrated by both teams.
Tries from Seru and Nayacavou in quick succession opened the second half making the side line finger nail chewers slightly more at ease but Ponty had by no means rolled over into submission. Crunching physical tackles were being made by both sides and the exciting young side matched the Army speedsters for pace on both wings, sniping on each flank, their hard work was not in vain and they were rewarded with their own try, sensing a comeback was not out of the question, their tales were up. Had there been more time on the clock it may have been possible but there was only time for a final word from the Reds as sprightly Sammy Speight pinned his head back clinching the win and place in the final 29-5.
A sixth success final awaited the Reds, it had been a long day but a small and appreciated crowd remained for the ‘rumble in the jungle’ as we faced our old rivals Welsh Samurai. The Reds were looking to retain their title from last year but this final, perhaps the toughest hurdle needed to be scaled in order to do so. The grey clouds rolled over the valleys, an intense atmosphere swirling around the cauldron and an eerie silence fell across the pitch and around the park, the Reds calmly, quietly scored four unanswered tries. A hatrick from Roko and another from Seru saw them take a surprising early cushion against this world class 7s outfit. Samurai are a very experienced 7s team and were not to be written off by this early lead, they responded as we knew they would with tries either side of the break, seeing more territory and possession in the second half were looking to fight their way back into contention. The Army work rate was immense, every player seemed to defy any fatigue that may have begun to creep in and made tackle after tackle to stem the Samurai attack, The strength in depth of our bench only highlights the talent of players we are fortunate to have available to us and super sub Sammy Speight along with Seru and Cataki added a further three unanswered tries, not only claiming the Cwmtawe 7s title, 45-10 but an unbeaten domestic season for 2012.
Well, that wasn’t us, this is. Dreams rarely come true through wishing alone, it requires sacrifice, hard work and determination. With that combined dreams really do come true. Great Britain take a bow. Army 7s take a bow.