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Rocking Edinburgh

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 second of the pool matches again saw the Reds face another old friendly foe in ‘Storm 7s’ in a repeat of the final from Newquay 7s just a fortnight ago. Again as in the first match earlier ever reliable Ben Seru settled the nerves with an early try out wide and shortly followed this with a second to take an early lead 12-0. The Reds were retaining possession but the Storm defence was up quickly trying to shut them down. Again the time old tried and tested patience and ball retention paid off and good linking between Sikeli Ratubuli and Knoxy Laqero set up Malaki Magnus to add another 5 points.
The Reds were holding onto the ball but were having to play from within their own 22 as Storm worked hard to drive them back, the covering tackles were good from Storm forcing handling errors from the Reds and they were rewarded with a consolation try as a chip over head gave them a gap. Just time for the last word from the Reds and Sikeli crossed the line to secure the win 24-7.

After topping Pool C and a small break to allow for ‘refuelling’ and also the opportunity to catch some of the competition in action the Reds lined up for the Quarter Finals against invitational side ‘Flying Fish’. Sealing his hatrick of opening match tries for the day, yet again Ben Seru opened the scoring for the early lead. The Flying Fish were true to their name however and showed plenty of pace securing the restart cleanly to chip through, fortunately for the Reds the secure arms of Ben Seru awaited and a dummy Jack Prasad would be proud of saw him clean through for his second of the match.

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.

So another final awaited the Reds and some might think it is easy to be complacent but the team are focused towards a common goal and they fight with relentless work rate and execution for each win. The opposition, ‘Newitts Centurions’ who we had faced in the Semi Final at Newquay, lined up in their Argentinian style strip and came firing out of the blocks. If the Reds were hungry for this, so were they and it was evident. All the territory and possession was with the Centurions and they blasted the Reds to take a very quick and early lead 12-0 with two well executed pacy tries.

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.

Perhaps today was not our day? The Army 7s is more than a team, it is a family and every member gives their all for everyone else, no words spoken no questions asked. To the very end, Zac darted through every slightest gap, Knoxy charged like a bull to every attacker, Wes the work horse was at the heels of every breakdown hungry for the ball and secure possession. The clock was ticking and there wasn’t time for the patience and working the ball through the hands to create gaps that had worked earlier in the day,tired but battered Ben Seru was strapped to the max but the fitness of this team is testament to the work of head coach Alfred and physio Charlie, he’s not called Subaru for nothing,
head back and legs pumping he crossed the white wash 26-24, a little too close for comfort so just to make it safe he added his second of the match and final for the day sealing the victory and 5th tournament title for this season 33-24.

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.

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