Burns injury blights Gloucester triumph
July 26, 2012
Gloucester wrap up top spot
J.P Morgan Sevens Series
Gloucester enjoyed the comforts of home to book their spot in the final of the JP Morgan Asset Management 7s Series, wrapping up a clean sweep in Pool C at Kingsholm on Thursday night.
With newly-appointed director of rugby Nigel Davies watching on from the dugout, the Cherry and Whites stepped up their pre-season preparations with a slick showing - although they were dealt a major blow as playmaker Freddie Burns was forced off before the break in their decisive victory over Bath due to a knee problem.
The England Saxons international had been in sparkling form prior to his injury, with his control of the game allowing Ian Clark to wreak havoc out wide. The young wing finished with six tries for the tournament - including a hat-trick in their 24-17 victory over Bath, who qualified in second place after earlier wins over Exeter and Worcester.
Bath will have home advantage in the final on August 3, with London Irish, London Welsh, Saracens and Sale Sharks completing this season's line-up.
Gloucester opened proceedings with an impressive 36-7 victory over Exeter, where Clark was joined on the scoresheet by new signing Shane Monahan and England hopeful Jonny May, who served as captain for the evening.
Tom Biggs was a standout for Bath © Getty Images
Bath were equally impressive in the early stages and became the first side in this year's series to win games back-to-back, beating Worcester 35-12 before an energy-sapping 19-12 victory over the Chiefs.
England international Matt Banahan and skipper Tom Biggs were to the fore as they set up a decider against the hosts, who also made no mistake in a 33-24 victory over Worcester.
The final game had all of the blood and thunder associated with a west country derby, but Clark provided the cutting edge to ensure that the Shed had plenty to cheer about. The winger was named Player of the Tournament at the conclusion and will now hope to build a case for first-team selection come September in what will be a closely-contested final.
"I really feel I'm part of what Gloucester's all about," he said. "All the young guys, Jonny [May], Henry [Trinder] and Freddie [Burns] know what it's like to be the small guy in a team and they got me into space to finish off the tries."
England 7s coach Ben Ryan was again an interested observer and believes that there will be fireworks at the Rec, with a number of quality sides on display.
"If Gloucester put the same side out that they did tonight, they are going to be a very hard side to beat," he said. "Bath will do well on their home patch. I liked the look of London Irish, it took them a game to get going but London Irish and Saracens will still be the two that will potentially hit the final. That is sticking my neck on the block because all six sides played terrifically well."
Group A: Saracens, Sale Sharks, Gloucester
* Progress to the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series Final at The Rec, Bath, August 3
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