Battle lines drawn for 7s finale
August 1, 2012
Saracens' Nils Mordt, London Welsh's Ashley Smith, Bath's Tom Biggs, Sale's Johnny Leota, Gloucester's Jonny May and London Irish's Sailosi Tagicakibau pose ahead of the J.P. Morgan 7s finale © Getty Images
The contenders for this year's J.P. Morgan 7s title have announced their squads ahead of the tournament finale at The Rec on Friday night.
J.P Morgan Sevens Series
Gloucester and London Welsh will enter the event as the in-form sides having both swept through their qualifying pools undefeated but they will face a stiff challenge from the other finalists - hosts Bath, London Irish, Sale and Saracens.
The Cherry and Whites will head Pool A that will also include Saracens and Sale while the Exiles will be favourites to take Pool B that will also feature London Irish and Bath. The winners of the pools will meet in the final with the winner set to succeed Newcastle as champions.
Gloucester have made one enforced change to the squad that proved too good for Bath, Exeter and Worcester in last Friday's final qualifying event with Dave Lewis drafted in to replace the injured Freddie Burns. But they still boast plenty of potential match-winners in the likes of speedster Ian Clark and skipper Jonny May who has set the bar high. "We've got to make sure we keep the ball," he said, "because if we do we've got the speed to cause problems."
The Sale squad shows three changes to that left in London Welsh's wake at Edgeley Park a fortnight ago with Mark Easter and Will Cliff unavailable and captain Johnny Leota a late withdrawal. Academy second row Josh Beaumont and Blackheath scrum-half Jack Walsh have been drafted in along with Jake Henry, a member of the winning GB Student Sevens team in this summer's World University Sevens Championships in Brive.
Saracens, the winners of the inaugural title in 2010 and beaten finalists last year, have also tinkered with their squad with Jackson Wray, Joel Tomkins, Adam Powell and Chris Wyles all coming into the line-up and bringing significant power, pace and experience.
London Welsh have opted to rotate their options with several changes evident in their squad. Elliott Brierley, Hamish Smales, Steve Hamilton, Ben Frankland, Ryan De La Harpe, Ashley Smith and Steve Wood are also handed a chance to impress. "We know it's going to be hard," said Smith, "but I'm backing our team. We performed well at Sale and I'm sure we'll do well again."
Pool B rivals Bath have drafted Josh Ovens, Ben Mosses and Tom Chapman into a squad that will once again features first team regulars Tom Biggs, Matt Banahan and Guy Mercer, and rising stars Tom Heathcote, Olly Woodburn and Chris Cook. Promising Bath Academy members JJ Kilmartin, Ollie Devoto and Will Skuse complete the squad.
England international Jonathan Joseph has been added to the London Irish squad as does Jamie Gibson, who was also part of squad that recently toured South Africa. Joining them in the line-up will be England U20's flyer Marland Yarde. Scotland international Joe Ansbro also comes in with Jack Moates and Shaun Malton. Alex Gray, who was Player of the Round in the opening qualifier at the Twickenham Stoop, retains his place along with Tom Homer.
"It is fantastic to be in the final, the guys are all keen to replicate our performance from the London leg on Friday evening and look to claim the first silverware of the season," said winger Topsy Ojo.
Gloucester: Matt Cox, Huia Edmonds, Shane Monahan, Gareth Evans, Rob Langley, Alex Woodburn, Dan Robson, Henry Trinder, Ross Moriarty, Dave Lewis, Jonny May (capt), Ian Clark
Sale: Will Bordill, Tom Cruse, James Doyle, Will Hafu, Josh Beaumont, Mark Jennings, Jordan Davies, Jack Walsh, Tom Brady, Charlie Amesbury, Jake Henry, Will Addison
Saracens: Jono Ross, Jackson Wray, Duncan Taylor, Joel Tomkins, Adam Powell, Nils Mordt, Chris Wyles, James Short, Ben Spencer, Nathan Earle, Nick Tompkins, Sam Edgerley
London Welsh: Elliott Brierley, Hamish Smales, Tom Rees, Lolo Evans, Steve Hamilton, Peceli Nacamavuto, Ben Frankland, Ryan De La Harpe, Ed Tellwright, Chris Banfield, Ashley Smith, Steve Wood
Bath: Matt Banahan, Guy Mercer, Will Skuse, Josh Ovens, Ollie Devoto, Ben Mosses, Chris Cook, Tom Chapman, Tom Biggs, Tom Heathcote, JJ Kilmartin, Olly Woodburn
London Irish: Alex Gray, Joe Ansbro, Jonathan Josep, Tom Homer, Topsy Ojo, Marland Yarde, Gerard Ellis, Darren Allinson, Jamie Gibson, Jack Moates, Conor Gaston, Shaun Malton
To book tickets for the J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final on Friday, 3 August at The Recreation Ground, Bath, call 0844 448 1865 or visit www.bathrugby.com/tickets
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength