Saracens and Irish progress to Sevens finale
July 13, 2012
Saracens power past Quins on their way to their to the tournament finale next month%]
J.P Morgan Sevens Series
Saracens and London Irish booked their places in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series finale thanks to two wins out of three at the opening qualifying event at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night.
The 2010 champions Saracens suffered a narrow 14-12 defeat to Irish but still topped the pool having demolished Harlequins 33-0 and beaten Wasps 17-12. The Exiles, featuring a team full of proven internationals and battle hardened Premiership players, progress as runners-up thanks to a 46-7 win over Wasps that followed a 21-14 defeat to Quins in their opening game.
Harlequins recorded two wins of their own - with a 33-0 drubbing of Wasps rounding out the action - but a lack of bonus points proving to be costly. Wasps propped up the table with just one bonus point and three tries to their name.
Saracens' James Short injects some pace into an attack during his side's clash with Quins © Getty Images
Sarries' skipper Nils Mordt was delighted with his side's night's work, despite their defeat to Irish. He said: "What got us through to win this was our points difference and nilling Quins in the fashion that we did was a great performance for all of us, especially the way we kept the ball in the wet.
"I truly believe we had a win in us [against London Irish], we hadn't had the ball too much in that second half. By the end they were a little bit out on their feet and a little bit worse than us. Just to have held on to the ball we may have won it but it was not a bad result at all. The teams are very evenly matched so we are just very happy that we have gone through as the winners.
"It is a taste for the beginning of the season and the double header. It is a great occasion. It would be better if the weather was a little bit nicer but I think it is growing into something big. You can see the teams getting selected and the competition between the sides is growing every year."
After helping his side progress with two tries and three terrific performances that won him the 'Player of the Night' award, London Irish's Alex Gray immediately set his sights on the Series final at Bath on August 3.
"It wasn't quite how we would have liked to do it, obviously losing our first game but we probably needed that to snap us back into it because it was probably the first time some of these guys have played sevens, I know it is for me, since school at least," said the former England U20 captain. "Now we're through to the finals so you have got to be happy with that and we can come back in two weeks time and have a crack at the finals in Bath."
England Sevens coach Ben Ryan was at The Stoop and was impressed by the standard of rugby on display with a number of players including Gray, team-mate Tom Homer and Quins' Ross Chisholm catching his eye. And he is excited about England's prospects at international level as well the game's development as it builds towards its inaugural appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Ryan said: "There is a lot of money going into the global game and I think no doubt the tipping point will be in four seasons time when 90,000 watch the gold medal match in the Maracana in Rio and there will be stars made over night and it will come into the general rugby playing consciousness. So it is incredibly exciting."
The Series now switches to Edgeley Park where Leicester Tigers, London Welsh, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks will contest Pool B next Friday.
* Progress to the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series Final at The Rec, Bath, August 3
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