Delight for the Sharks at Abingdon 7s
Abingdon RUFC 7s Competition
It was a fine, breezy day when the Sharks attended the oldest Sevens event at Abingdon RFC, near Oxford. Looking to make an impact after recent disappointment, the Sharks travelled with a changed squad - Greg Loydall and Roko Kurusasa were back for their first games this season and Mariner Paul Mortenson added his experience too. Player availability was always going to be tough during main summer leave and with 17 other teams entered it was set to be a long hard day for all involved.
The first match kicked off at 11am with the Sharks pitted against the Grove. After 30 seconds the Sharks scored with a try from Luke Cooper followed by his second a minute later. Sam Benzie added another before Patrick Coy added his before half time to lead 26-0. The second half started a little slower, Coy got his second try before Paul Mortenson added to the score sheet. To finish off a great performance Semi Tabanivsei got the final try. With Wilson Curtis and Luke Warrington sharing the conversions, the full time result was 45-0. A great start for the Sharks.
The next game against the Smothered 7s started with Sam Benzie scoring from the kick off and further tries followed from Luke Cooper and team captain, James Sutton, then Wilson Curtis. The players converted their own tries for a half time score of 26-0. Squad changes were made and the second half was just as pleasing. Roko Kurusasa and Gavin Elsam added more points within the first few minutes followed by Semi Tabanivesi and Greg Loydall to finish convincing winners 50-0.
The next game was a true test but not for the Sharks. MCM Detroit have been entering a number of events this summer, pulling in social players from HMS Collingwood, HMS Sultan and HMS Nelson for a enjoyable day of 7s rugby, but this was the first time they had faced the Sharks. There was no special treatment for MCM Detroit. James Sutton scored from the kick off followed by scores from Roko Kurusasa and Luke Warrington, at this stage of the half the Sharks were keeping hold of the ball and making the MCM Detroit players work very hard in defence, however after a time big gaps opened and Roko and Warrington scored again to finish the half leading 38-0. The second half was just as good for the Sharks, they had all of the possession and with 3 further tries they cruised to victory 57-0.
A buoyed up Sharks’ side next faced the Chinnor Kites but it started very differently to the other matches. The Kites scored first then added another before Patrick Coy was able to score some points for the Sharks which left them trailing 7-12 at half time. From the re-start Roko Kurusasa powered through to level but the Kites would not go down without a fight and scored once again. Some quick changes were made and the Sharks showed real grit with Greg Loydall and James Sutton adding tries before Paul Mortenson finished off a great move and the Sharks secured a 31-19 victory.
The final group game was against Oxford Harlequins; the Sharks kept the same side that finished against the Chinnor Kites and this allowed the concentration levels to remain high. James Sutton leading from the front scored first which allowed the Sharks to settle. They dominated in all areas of the pitch with further scores from Sam Benzie, Greg Loydall and Luke Cooper to finish 26-0 up at half time. The Sharks switched off at the start of the second half allowing the Quins back into the game before Lewis Cooper made the final score, sealing the win 33-12, ensuring the Sharks finished top of their group.
With the group games completed, the knock-out stage began. The Sharks were placed the best overall group winner so they faced the best-placed runners up in the semi final - the Henley Vikings. After a fantastic start from James Sutton who scored under the posts, the Sharks were unable to maintain the pressure, allowing the Vikings to score 2 tries 7-12. Squad changes were made which allowed the Sharks to up the pressure and Patrick Coy soon put points on the board then Gavin Elsam followed up to swing the control back to the Sharks. However it was not to last as the Vikings scored out wide to put themselves back in contention. Fortunately the Sharks were into their rhythm by this stage and a team try finished by James Sutton allowed the Sharks to keep the lead and book their place in the final. Final Score 28-17.
The Final was a tense and calculated affair; the Sharks were pitted against High Wycombe who had also been dominant on their path to the final. The Sharks set out to tire and frustrate High Wycombe and they achieved a single try from Luke Cooper but before the whistle for the end of the first half could be blown High Wycombe edged in to level the score 7-7. Changes were made for the second half and good ball presentation at the contact area allowed Patrick Coy to score followed quickly by another try from Luke Warrington. The Sharks were in control of the final now; they were able to move the ball around at will, always keeping possession. This style of play was rewarded with a final try for the day by Roko Kurusasa. The Sharks had won the first cup final of the season and the full time score was 28-7.
James Sutton as captain led his side for the day and the Sharks secured a great victory at the Abingdon 7s. It was also brilliant to see the MCM Detroit team putting in great effort and representing the Fleet at the social level. If you feel that you have what it takes to be involved in the Navy Sharks next season and can commit your time at weekends please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, we are always on the look out for new players to add to our squad.
The final event for the Navy Sharks this season will see them compete at the Harpenden 7s on Sunday 28th August 2016.
Squad: James Sutton (captain), Sam Benzie, Luke Cooper, Paul Mortenson, Wilson Curtis, Lewis Cooper, Gavin Elsam, Luke Warrington, Roko Kurusasa, Greg Loydall, Patrick Coy and Semi Tabanivesi.
Article by Guy Pallet and Pony Moore
Images © John Walton