Navy Sharks in action in West Country 7s
Last weekend saw a larger and stronger Navy Sharks squad develop as a side in the West Country 7s. This tournament was of a higher standard than the Wild Boar 7s and included a number of teams from the UK 7s circuit, such as Tsunami, Samurai, Apache, Carmarthen and an Akuma invitation side. The competition also attracted the British Army and France Universities who were to play against each other in the Cup Final, with the Army ending up as the worthy winners.
The Sharks were placed in Group H with the Carmarthen Warriors, Sodbury Otters and Colbert Crusaders. The opening group match kicked off at 10.40 with the Navy Sharks taking on the Colbert Crusaders, this was side made up of Exeter Chiefs academy players who were playing for next season's team selection! The Sharks started with a positive attitude and defended very well putting into practice the defensive system coached to them by Sam Cuff on their Friday afternoon training season. At half time the score was 12 - 0 to the Colbert Crusaders; the 2nd half was more of the same however, a score from the Sharks took it to 12 - 5 with 5 minutes left. The Crusaders then picked up the pace eventually winning 24 - 5.
The Sharks' 2nd match saw them take on the Sodbury Otters and as soon as the whistle was blown, the Otters knew they were in for a hard time. The Sharks attack was relentless and AET John Humphrey scored twice; converting both of his tries. The second half was very much in the same vein with a quick try early in the 2nd half: 19 - 0 to the Sharks. The Otters managed to close the gap by 5 points however, the Sharks bit back finally winning their 2nd game 31 - 5, their first win in this year's 7s tournaments.
The final group match saw the Sharks take on the might of the group heavy weights, the Carmarthen Warriors. However, the Navy Sharks again were no easy push over, both attacking and defending with force, power and skill, unfortunately the experience of the Welsh side showed through and they won the match 26 - 0. This saw the Navy side finish 3rd in the group and progress into the Bowl Competition. Their opponents would be the Pistol Shrimps and again, both sides were evenly match. However, the Shrimps had a couple of lucky breaks and found themselves 14 - 0 up. The Sharks continued to attack and were rewarded with a try from AB(D) Ben Wood, taking the score to 14 - 5 at half time. The second half saw the luck fall on the side of the Shrimps who eventually won 21 - 5 and progressed to the semi-finals.
Overall the West Country 7s was a much larger event for the Navy Sharks and a very useful development opportunity. It was an ideal platform to develop the game play and skills coached to them by the TSG of Lt Sam Cuff RN, Capt Scott Ashley RM and WO1 Billy May RN. The squad has developed both as a team and as individuals in all areas, and showed real determination, passion and enthusiasm for the shorter and quicker game of 7s. The purpose of the Navy Sharks is to develop players in all areas and at present that aim is being achieved.
The Navy Sharks squad:
ET(WESM) Cooper (Capt) HMS Collingwood
Mne Blackburn DNR (CTCRM)
Sgt Blackburn RM Poole
AET Humphrey(Vice Capt) RNAS Yeovilton
LH James HQCHF
Lt Copeland HMS Portland
AET Clay HMS Sultan
LCpl Bridgen 40 Cdo RM
LCpl Foster 40 Cdo RM
AB(D) Wood HMS Bangor
AB Davies HMS Illustrious
Mne Huntley 42 Cdo RM
NA(AH) Witts HMS Drake
The next test of the Sharks will be the Newquay 7s on the 30 Jun 12 which will see them enter a far larger competition with more teams of a higher standard.