Samurai reclaim Sevens crown
July 9, 2011
Former England international Andy Vilk grabbed two tries in the final © Getty Images
Samurai won the 86th Middlesex Sevens after they thrashed Esher in the final 55-12 on Saturday at Twickenham.
The Samurai's star-studded line-up, which failed to have a single representative from last year's victorious side in their squad, ably despatched the tournament's surprise package Esher in the final. Samurai, who came into Saturday's showpiece following three tournament wins on the Sevens circuit this season, had conceded just two tries in Saturday's competition prior to the final despatching Plymouth Albion 40-7 and then knocking out crowd favourites Brazil in the semi-final 21-7. Esher's passage to the final was a closely fought affair as they knocked out the much fancied Army side in the quarter-finals 21-15 before turning over the VIPR Pups 12-5.
The Samurai's Andy Vilk opened the scoring in the second minute of the final running into the corner following a scrum as the reigning champions' experience paid dividends. Samurai were soon reduced to six men, however, after Kiwi Sevens international Lote Raikabula was dismissed for a high-tackle on player-of-the-tournament Esher's Sam Edgerley.
Samurai, who are coached by well-known Sevens figures Mike Friday and Phil Greening, ignored the one man deficit and scored almost immediately from the resulting penalty through a well-worked try with Ed Cocker crossing the line making it 12-0. The momentum immediately shifted back to Esher, however, with Geoff Griffiths sprinting down the wing from the restart and dotting the ball down in the corner.
Watisoni Votu, who has been playing on the IRB Sevens Series with Fiji, made it 19-5 to the Samurai soon after as the reigning champions threatened to pull away. Esher struck back though prior to the first-half whistle with a superb solo effort from 19-year-old Edgerley as he raced down the wing before cutting inside and side-stepping two defenders and then running underneath the posts to make it 19-12 at half-time.
Samurai, who were competing in their third straight Middlesex Sevens final, looked to assert their dominance from the start of the second-half with Fijian David Batiratu outsprinting the Esher defence to cross the line. Vilk extended the Samurai lead to 19 points soon after though question marks will remain over whether he dotted the ball down before being bundled into touch in the dead ball area. Esher had no answer to the Samurai's dominance with tries from Warwick Lahmert, Ed Telwright and a double from Scotland Sevens international Michael Fedo helped the Samurai to a comfortable victory.
The HFW Wailers took the Plate Final against Simon Amor's London Scottish winning 41-12. The Wailers, who were knocked out in the opening round by Esher, came to Twickenham hot off winning the Amsterdam Sevens and accounted for the Apache's 31-7 and Wooden Spoon, complete with Ealing's try-scoring phenomenon Phil Chesters, 26-19 en route to the final of the Plate competition.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures