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JP Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series
Newcastle and Sale shine on 7s stage
Scrum.com
July 23, 2010

Newcastle and Sale booked their places at the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series Final by seeing off the challenge of Leicester Tigers and Leeds Carnegie at Welford Road.

The Falcons set the standard in the second of three qualifying groups with Aaron Myers catching the eye as his side powered into the tournament finale that will be staged at The Rec on August 6. They will be joined there by the Sharks - who edged out Leeds for a final berth - while hosts Leicester failed to register a win. Newcastle and Sale join previous qualifiers Saracens and Harlequins in the field for the final with the remaining places set to be decided at Franklin's Gardens next week.

Sale made an impressive start to their campaign with a 33-7 victory over an inexperienced Leeds side. Josh Fowles opened the scoring for the Sharks, showing good strength and an impressive turn of speed to grab the night's first try. And Fowles soon had his second after exploiting a lapse in the Leeds defence that allowed him to coast home. But Leeds responded well with Richard Beck stretching the Sale defence before putting offloading superbly to Curtis Wilson who raced in for a try. However, Sale had the final say of the half with David Tait grabbing his side's third try just before the break. Sale were soon knocking on the door again after the re-start with Henry Thomas the next to underline his side's superiority and Ed Stobart hammered home their advantage with his side's fifth score.

Newcastle also laid down an impressive marker with a 19-7 victory over Leicester in their opening clash. Charlie Amesbury pounced to give Newcastle an early lead against Leicester in the second game but the lively George Ford levelled things up after a good spell of sustained pressure from the Tigers. However, Amesbury began the half as he started it with a burst of speed and a try to give the Falcons the edge as they went into the break. Some excellent defence from the Falcons then kept Leicester at bay when an equalising score looked on and they were made to pay for their shortcomings when Steve Parsons powered away to grab what proved to be a match-winning score.

The two undefeated sides went head-to-head in the next clash and it was Newcastle who came out on top with a 19-12 win. The Falcons opened the scoring through Tyson Lewis who injected some timely pace and weathered a tackle from Fowles before touching down. The impressive Fowles almost notched an immediate reply only to be denied by some desperate defence but Stobart had no such trouble when a gaping hole opened up in midfield. The pace of Lewis continued to cause problems with Fred Burdon the beneficiary in the form of his side's second try. Newcastle began the second half well and Parsons edged his side further ahead with his second try of the night. Sale fought back and Tom Taylor crossed after a sweeping team move but that would be as close as they would get.

Battling to stay alive in the competition, Leeds edged out Leicester 33-26 in the next fixture. Leeds exploded into life with tries from Tom Barrett and Wilson putting them in control. But Leicester, also facing elimination, were gifted a way back into the game thanks to a wild pass with Rob Conquest grabbing the loose ball before crashing over for the score from close range. And they had their second through Stephen Macaulay and an excellent conversion from out wide levelled the scores. However, there was still time for Rob Almond to edge Leeds ahead once more before the break. A brace of tries for Matt Everard then saw Leicester take the lead for the first time in the game but Oli Denton pulled Leeds level with the next score. With the clock running down, Almond struck with the decisive try - latching onto his own chip ahead before diving in to score.

Sale heaped woe on Leicester with a thumping 33-10 in their clash. A try from Will Cliff and a yellow card for Macaulay left the Tigers facing an uphill battle and Sale wasted little time in exploiting the numerical advantage with a second try for Cliff. Stobart added a third before Macaulay's return and a fourth try from Elliot Brierly took the Sharks out to a 28-0 lead at half-time. Rory Lynn offered the home crowd a rare moment of jubilation with a second half try and they added another through Macaulay but it was too little, too late and Sale sent the hosts crashing out of the competition with a final try for Fowles.

In the game that would decide who would join Sale at the Series finale next month, Newcastle edged out Leeds 15-12. The Falcons took the lead through Burdon and after weathering a sustained spell of pressure from Leeds they extended their lead with Parsons grabbing another try. A great chip and chase from Beck then resulted in a try for Denton and the conversion brought Leeds to within three points at the break. And the Yorkshire club had the lead early in the second half with Denton creating the opportunity for Wilson to score. But their lead was short-lived with Jack Harrison putting the Falcons back in control and they held on to book their place at The Rec.

Group B Draw:
Sale Sharks 33-7 Leeds Carnegie
Newcastle Falcons 19-7 Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons 19-12 Sale Sharks
Leeds Carnegie 33-26 Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks 33-10 Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons 15-12 Leeds Carnegie

Premiership Rugby Sevens Series - Welford Road
P W D L PF PA BP Total
Newcastle* 3 3 0 0 53 31 0 12
Sale* 3 2 0 1 78 36 2 11
Leeds Carnegie 3 1 0 2 52 74 2 6
Leicester Tigers 3 0 0 3 43 55 2 2

* Progress to the JP Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series Final at The Rec, Bath, August 6

Squads:

Leicester Tigers: Liam Holder, Jimmy Stevens, Gerard Mullen, Rob Conquest, Hamish Watson, Stephen Macaulay, Matt Everard, Tom Armes, Christophe Ridley, George Ford, Luke Veebel, Rory Lynn

Leeds Carnegie: Oli Stedman, Joe Barker, Richard Beck, Alex Rieder, Alex Black, Toby Quarendon, James Twomey, Oli Denton, Rob Almond, Curtis Wilson, Tom Barrett, Christian Georgiou

Newcastle Falcons: Steve Parsons, Aaron Myers, Sam Shires, Jack Smales, Peter Jericevich, Michael Tait, Charlie Amesbury, Sep Visser, Jack Harrison, Mike Ward, Tyson Lewis, Fred Burdon

Sale Sharks: Henry Thomas, Charlie Baleirara, Tom Taylor, Luke Raselala, Ben Davey, Fergus Mulchrone, Elliot Brierley, Will Cliff, Josh Fowles, Ed Stobart, Tom Brady, James Lewis

Tournament schedule:
Group A: Harlequins, Saracens, London Irish, London Wasps
Group B: Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, Leeds Carnegie
Group C: Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester Rugby (July 30, Franklin's Gardens)
Finals: Harlequins, Saracens, Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks (August 6, The Rec)

All four rounds of the tournament, including the final, will be broadcast LIVE from the grounds by ESPN in the UK.

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