Exiles storm to Middlesex crown
August 15, 2009
Sailosi Tagicakibau and London Irish have claimed the the Middlesex Sevens title
© Getty Images
London Irish kicked their season off with a bang, claiming the Middlesex Sevens title at Twickenham.
Featuring three Armitage brothers, Delon, Steffon and Guy, in their squad, the Exiles defeated the invitational Samurai Internationals side 26-19 in the final of the traditional season curtain-raiser.
With impressive victories over Saracens, the British Army and Gloucester en route to the final, the Exiles were worthy champions after a day of exhilarating sevens action at the home of English rugby.
The tournament pitted four invitational sides against the twelve Guinness Premiership teams, but Joe Lydon's Samurai outlasted the Army, White Hart Marauders and Ben Ryan's Help for Heroes squad to make the final.
The Exiles nearly made a perfect start to the final but Peter Richards knocked on while attempting to score. They had their reward moments later though, when England fullback Armitage broke clear to score under the posts. Marcus Watson increased their lead after profiting from some indecision in the Samurai ranks, the dimuntive wing showing great pace to beat the cover.
Richards had a further say before the break, sprinting along the line before firing a scoring pass to his skipper Paul Hodgson. Hodgson dived in under the posts and Armitage converted for a 19-0 lead. After the break the Exiles showed no signs of slowing down, with Sailosi Tagicakibau showing all of his power and pace to smash through the Samurai defence.He then saw yellow for a high tackle, and while he was in the bin Kenyan star Collins Injera registered the first points for Samurai before Willie Bishop scored another. Samurai completed the scoring with a try to Tim Walsh, but the day belonged to London Irish.
Earlier, Sale claimed the Plate final after defeating last season's champions Harlequins 24-12. Both sides had fallen in the main draw to invitational sides, Quins to White Hart Marauders and Sale to Help for Heroes.
Quins never recovered from an early brace scored by Ryan Clifton, the Sharks man profiting from a slice of luck to score his second in the corner. Ollie Lindsay-Hague, who had been superb all day for Quins, pulled a score back in the second-half with some quick stepping but they had been left too much to do after conceding early on.
The Exiles began their day with a victory over Gloucester, where Tagicakibau bagged his first score of the day. All four of the invitational sides progressed to the Cup quarter finals, but there were also exits at the first hurdle for Harlequins, Bath, Wasps, Worcester, Northampton, Sale and Leicester.
The quarter-finals proved to be more difficult for the invitational teams, with Help for Heroes suffering a heavy defeat to an exciting Newcastle side, Marauders losing to Saracens and the Army exiting the tournament at the hands of London Irish, who had Steffon Armitage to thank for a timely try. The Exiles, Saracens and Falcons were joined in the semi-finals by Samurai, who defeated newly-promoted Leeds.
The semi-finals saw London Irish see off Saracens 17-12, with Steffon Armitage again producing the goods, while the Falcons' run was ended by Kenyan Sevens maestro Collins Injera who was masterful as Samurai powered through 28-17.
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