Good show for Sharks at Greene King 7s
The second tournament of the season saw the Sharks travel to Bury St Edmunds to compete in the Green King IPA open event. With 6 changes and 3 players stepping up from the development squad the Sharks were a different side with a different feel from their first outing at East Grinstead. A Friday night meet at RAF Honnington allowed the squad to settle and train together ahead of the tournament.
First up as competition for the Sharks were the Bulldogs. The squad were fresh and the game started at a fast pace with the Sharks scoring first through Sam Benzie quickly followed by a powering run from Ollie Newborn to take a half time lead 14 - 0. The second half started more slowly which allowed the Bulldogs back into the game, 14 - 12, but towards the end of the game Jackson Aceman finished the Bulldogs off to win 21 - 12.
The next team in the group were the Stunts. With the same 7 starting the Sharks were full of confidence but this was not to last as the Stunts hit the Sharks hard and dominated in all areas. A combination of poor defence and sloppy ball retention allowed the Stunts to race to a 26 - 0 lead before the Sharks could get on the score sheet but it was too late and the full time score was 26 - 5.
With the Sharks trying to forget about their performance in the last game head coach Sili Buinimasi gave his starting 7 players the chance to shine against the Fran Old Boys. The confidence was there from the off, Charlie Heard scored from the start to settle the team taking the lead 7 - 0. Then another from Heard made it 14 - 0 at half time. Fran OB’s got one back after the break which spurred the lads on and Heard grabbed his third try in the game to finish off 21 - 5.
A tough team waited for the Sharks in the open cup semi-final - Bury St Edmunds were a local side with big support and some fantastic players. The Sharks raised their game but BSE were quicker to react. BSE won more breakdowns and had better ball retention and upped the pace of the game to give the Sharks their second loss of the day with a 33 - 5 full time score. The Sharks then progressed into the Plate final - against the Stunts.
How were the Sharks going to perform after a big defeat to BSE against the Stunts who had beaten them in the pool stages? The odds weren't looking good but 7s is a funny old game and you have to approach the games one at a time. The Sharks showed grit and determination, wanting to make up for their last defeat. Benzie found space and scored first 7 - 0 but the Stunts responded 2 minutes later to level the score 7 - 7. From the restart Marcus Stevens gathered the ball and coasted through the defence to score under the posts 14 - 7 going in to half time. The Stunts were not willing to give up and scored after the start of the second half 14 - 14. Then a lapse in defence gave the Stunts a chance to score which they took out wide 14 - 19. However the Sharks rallied together to put Ollie Newborn into some space and he found a gap in the Stunts defence to score under the posts 19 - 19. The Sharks then pulled one last move that allowed Gavin Elsom to score which Heard converted to win the Plate final 29 - 19.
A great result for the Sharks winning the Plate final at BSE. The squad played well but on occasions the concentration was missing but as a team they stayed together and never gave up. The first few events of the season are all about coming together and bonding with each other and they all showed great attitude to beat the Stunts after the loss in the pool stages.
The Sharks next tournament is the Bournemouth 7s over the bank holiday weekend, starting on Saturday 27 May at Bournemouth RFC. Go Navy!
Squad: Sam Benzie (c), Marcus Stevens, Robbie Elder, Rufio Williams, Jackson Aceman, Charlie Heard, Ollie Newborn, Jordan Brown, Ton Tyrell, Gav Elsom, Rhys Williams, James Griggs, Ben Jeacock.
Words by Guy Pallett
Photographs by Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton