Sharks shredded by the Ducks!
North Dorset Sevens Competition
The Sharks and Stingrays travelled to their fourth tournament of the season at North Dorset RFC. The team have fond memories of playing here, over the past 5 years the Sharks have won the competition 3 times.
The Sharks welcomed Jarred Hayler, Semi Tabanivesi, Ben Clark and Toots Vakalutukali to the squad for the first time this season and the Stingrays had 6 new players; Keyton Laylan-Jones, George Watson, Adam Pollock, Mitchel Spencer, Craig Jones and Chris Williams, all of whom wanted to get involved with 7s rugby for the Navy. With the ground being solid and the weather getting hotter by the hour both teams were in for a tough day of rugby.
The first game for the Stingrays was against the Bournemouth Bees in the social cup. From the off the lads struck hard, Sharif Hornsy scored within the first minute shocking the Bees. The game settled before Craig Jones and Callum Patterson added one try each for an impressive 21 - 0 lead at half time. After the break Chris Williams and Adam Pollock scored more well worked tries before the Bees responded with a try of their own 35 - 5. But the Sharks had the final word as Patterson finished off a great solo effort 42 - 5 at full time.
The Sharks were drawn in a group with the RAF Spitfires. This was their first meeting for a long time. It was the RAF who started strongest working the ball wide to find the gap to score in the first minute 7 - 0. However Jarred Hayler responded carrying the ball well to score wide 5 - 7. From the restart Troy Goby dummied the defence to fly down the wing to take the lead 12 - 7. The restart won, speedster Ross Williams raced away to score just before half time 17 - 7. The second half started a bit more slowly until Tristan Trehan carried well to score out wide 22 - 7. Williams got the ball and scored again 27 - 7, but just before the end of the game the RAF scored under the posts to finish 27 - 14. Victory for the Sharks!
The Stingrays now faced the home side, the North Dorset Badgers. They kept up the good work rate and moved the ball with skill. The training they had the day before was still fresh in their minds and Hornsy once again opened the scoring followed by Mitchel Spencer bagging a brace to end the half 17 - 0. After the break the Badgers reduced the score to 17 - 7 before George Watson and Patterson (x 2) finished the scoring to end the game strongly 36 - 7.
After their great start the Sharks were to play another side they had never played before, Sherborne RFC (another local team). Hayler started the fastest and blitzed the Sherborne defence to go over 5 - 0 before Craig Duncan sliced his way through the tackles for another score before half time 10 - 0. The tries continued throughout the second half with Tristan Trehan placing his try under the posts 17 - 0. With 10 minutes played, the Sharks were reduced to 6 men which allowed Sherborne to score 17 - 5, and just before the end Hayler broke the tackles again to finish the game in the Sharks favour 24 - 5.
After a dream start to the group the Stingrays were flying high with energy and enthusiasm. Last in the group were Put The Monkey In The Hole (PTMITH) who hosted some talented players from around the county. It took 4 minutes of play before the first try was scored and the honours went to PTMITH 0 - 7. As if by magic Hornsy stepped up to even the scores 7 - 7 followed by Spencer to finish the half 14 - 7 in front. But in the 7s game a small lead will always be a struggle to maintain and the PTMITH team found space to even the score 14 - 14 and it stayed the same until the final whistle. A fantastic game where both sides played and defended well.
The Sharks were looking to maintain the fine start and finish on top of their group. The Royal Logistics Corps Titans were their final opposition in the group. It was going to be a very tough and physical encounter for the Sharks. Duncan opened the scoring by slipping the tackle 7 - 0, quickly followed by Semi Tabanivesi who got his first try of the day with a fantastic tip line run 14 - 7. Duncan added another for his brace 21 - 0 by half time. The Titans gathered from the restart for a try of their own, 21 - 7, before team captain Seva Naulago finished a fine passage of play 28 - 7. The Titans would not give up and pulled one back 28 - 12 before Goby finished the scoring 33 - 12 and the Sharks finished top of the group going through to the final stages with the RAF Spitfires in second place.
The Stingrays were clearly starting to enjoy their rugby and their performance is steadily improving and they are progressing to more knock out stages. In their semi-final they faced the Hurn Windsocks, a team the Sharks had played at the South West 7s in June. The Windsocks were just too strong and technical for the Stingrays and they exposed at times their lack of finesse. The first score went to the Windsocks 0 - 7 but Patterson was able to close the gap 5 - 7. This was not enough and the Windsocks got 2 more before half time 5 -19. After the break the Stingrays defended well but cracks and tiredness were starting to show. 2 more scores came both for the Windsocks to finish the game and knock the Stingrays out of the competition 5 - 29.
In the cup semi-final the Sharks played the second placed team in the other group - the Godfathers. These teams have met before over the seasons with the results going both ways so everything was up for grabs. Hayler scored first followed by 2 from Duncan for a strong lead 21 - 0. But the Godfathers didn't give up and got 1 before the break 21 - 5. The Sharks controlled the game and the players good 7s skill restricted the Godfathers ability to play. Seva powered through 28 - 5 followed by Duncan who got his hat trick 35 - 5. Hayler controlled the game and sliced through at ease 40 - 5 before Ben Clark finished off a fine performance 45 - 5. The Sharks were now through to the final where they faced the Shredded Ducks.
The Sharks had met the Shredded Ducks many times before over the years with the Ducks also playing many tournaments around the South of the UK. Sometimes in 7s you have those games where whatever you try to do it never seems to go right and unfortunately this was one of those games for the Sharks. The Ducks defended well and cut down the space and snipped the loose balls to build a strong first half lead 17 - 0. With 7 minutes left to play, from the restart Sam Benzie gathered the ball and off loaded to Duncan to score under the posts 17 - 7 but the Ducks responded quickly 24 - 7. Hayler pulled another one back followed once again by Goby but it was too little too late and the final whistle blew 24 - 17.
Sometimes when you play 7s a moment in time when you switch off and lose focus and concentration you concede simple tries, miss that vital tackle or allow the attacking player too much space. As a player and a team, you must reflect to improve, it was a disappointing end to a great tournament, thank you to all involved, and a special mention for the 3 RNRURS referees who were there officiating in their county colours.
S Benzie (VC), B Clark, C Duncan, T Goby, J Hayler, M Horton, S Naulago (team captain), T Trehan, R Williams, R Vakalutukali, S Tabanivesi, M Holland, E Holland.
R Boulton, K Laylan-Jones, G Watson, A Pollock, D Johnson, B Roden (team captain), M Spencer, C Jones, C Williams, S Bentley, C Patterson (VC), S Hornsy.
Words: Guy Pallett
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton