J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series
Sevens finale set to thrill The Rec
August 5, 2010
Northampton's John Brake on the charge © Getty Images
Harlequins, Saracens, Sale, Newcastle, Northampton and Exeter go head-to-head at Bath's Recreation Ground on Friday as the final of the J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series bursts into life.
The Aviva Premiership season is just around the corner and the young squads can provide some vital momentum with some early silverware, while treating the crowd to an evening of fast-paced action.
The Saints booked their passage at Franklin's Gardens in the final round of heats last weekend and were joined by the newly-promoted Chiefs, who have a prime opportunity to lay down a marker on Friday. Newcastle and Sale saw off Leicester and Leeds at Welford Road two weeks ago to secure final berths while Harlequins and Saracens profited in the opening round of action at the Stoop.
The teams have been divided into Pools of three for the final, with the two group winners going through to a decider. Pool A throws together the Saints, Saracens and Sale while Pool B comprises Harlequins, Exeter and Newcastle.
The Saints will again call on the services of England Sevens guest players John Brake, James Rodwell and Tom Powell, while Greg Barden is also drafted into the squad in place of Tom Nutley. "We played well in defence and attack last Friday," Academy coach Mark Hopley said. "But we'll have to step it up a few notches at the Rec. With just one team going through to the final and two games to play, we know we have to win against both Saracens and Sale.
"But our boys have really engaged with Sevens this summer. They have generated a great team spirit in a short time and are determined to work for each other to try and win the tournament."
Sale can boast an England Sevens representative in the form of wing Nick Royle, while the Sharks have also called on USA Eagles scrum-half Mike Petri.
Andrew Higgins made his playing return for Exeter last weekend after completing a drugs ban, but the former Bath wing is unavailable for the final, handing an opportunity to youngster Dave Bargent. Chiefs Sevens skipper Garrick Cowley, a Samoa international, has high hopes for the final.
"I thought the guys did really well at Northampton," he said. "We got off to a decent start in the opening game and that gave us the confidence to go out for the rest of the night and perform," he said. "I thought we were a bit unlucky in the last game [against Northampton]. Losing a man so early wasn't great for us, but we stuck at it and who knows on Friday we might be able to go even further."
The Final Draw:
19.00 Saracens v Sale Sharks
Northampton: Tom Powell, Mike Haywood, Greg Barden, Sam Farmer, Charlie Sadler, Ryan Glynn, Ben Nutley, James Rodwell, John Brake, Glyn Hughes, Jamie Elliott, Simon Hunt
Sale: David Tait, Ben Davey, Henry Thomas, Charlie Baleirara, Freddie Silcock, Josh Fowles, Nick Royle, Will Addison, Ed Stobart, Elliot Brierley, Mike Petri, Rhys Crane
Saracens: George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Don Barrell, Nils Mordt, Kevin Barrett, Luke Baldwin, Jake Sharp, Henry Staff, Owen Farrell, Ben Ransom, Noah Cato, Dave Vincent
Exeter: Herbie Stupple, Eoghan Grace, Charlie Walker-Blair, Garrick Cowley, Josh Matavesi, Paul McKenzie, Mike Canty, Jamie Fleming, Chris Reakes, Rob Coote, Jack Nowell, Dave Bargent
Harlequins: Joe Trayfoot, Sam Smith, Jack Clifford, Rob Buchanan, Alex Stout, Joe Beckett, Charlie Walker, JJ Kilmartin, Miles Mantella, Howard Graham, Ross Chisholm
Group A (Twickenham Stoop, July 16): Harlequins, Saracens, London Irish, London Wasps
The Final will be exclusively LIVE on ESPN in the UK
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