Four U7s teams left Sevenoaks at 6.45am looking forward to competing in the first Saracens festival of the season against teams from around the South East. While there was a good buzz in the air, the rain that arrived halfway round the M125 dampened any early expectations of free flowing rugby. However, what was to unfold during the morning was simply incredible.
From the off, all four teams demonstrated superb team work to create and hold the defensive lines they have been practising at the Paddock and to support the ball carrier at all times. From simple direct runs and well timed offloads, tries were scored at a sensational pace by all the teams.
In between the matches, as experiences were shared and the plays retold, the belief began to flourish in the children, coaches and parents. Victory followed victory. Each match a different player stepped up and stood out, whether for tagging, support, running or scoring.
At the end, each of the four teams had accumulated four victories from their four matches, a clean sweep of 16 wins from 16 matches. A phenomenal result across the four different pools, and against opposition ranging from Hertford, Chelmsford, Bancroft, Finchley and Deal, to local rivals Dartford and Aylesford.
Well done to all the U7s players who took part.
Sevenoaks Tigers performed from the first whistle, notching up a 9-5 victory over the Maldon Trojans. Not a single horse to be seen in the Sevenoaks camp, Tigers all round with incessant tagging resulting in a couple of turnovers and the breathing space for the team to enjoy running in the tries. Max’s close support running was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries. The Harpenden Harps were a lot tougher to break down. Starting the match, the Tigers remained 1 try ahead with the run of play. Late pressure deep in the Harps half, forced the single error of the match and with the turnover, the Tigers secured the advantage. The final play saw the Harps score but the turnover gave the Tigers a 10-9 victory. The direct forward running was the highlight of the second match with Iris leading the try scoring this time with a hat-trick.
Chelmsford presented a different challenge. A much scrappier affair, partly created by regular offside tagging against the Tigers from the whistle. Lose balls were quickly snapped up by Lucas who became the third player to score a hat-trick. Edward enjoyed a couple of mazy runs to set up the team, throwing in a pirouette for the fans. Last up were Hertford. A more one-sided affair as Pedri came into his own as a tagging machine, creating three turnovers. More foraging from Lucas, powerful running from Iris and on the shoulder support from Max saw tries being scored across the team. A 6-2 victory to wrap up the day.
Team: Edward Blackmore, Lucas Bowen, Max Cowie, Iris Fairbairn, Pedri Van Der Merwe
The Lions opener against Dartfordians was cold and wet yet the team tagged well running in tries aplenty with Leo and Jonty leading from the front. A clinical 6-4 victory. Tougher opposition was to come in the Aylesford Bulls but by then Aurelia had found her mark scoring one try with a great turn of pace and we came through with reasonable comfort for a 7-5 win. The Lions hunted down Finchley from the first whistle with strong defensive lines pushing up much more effectively and this was led by Charlie, who also touched down. Aurelia ran in a hat trick of tries and Liam showed real pace to add to the total for another victory (8 tries to 4). Harpenden played well but The Lions were supporting well, tagging as one unit and finishing tries off at will to record a second 7-5 victory for the morning. So it was another four from four. All five members tagged, scored and supported each other with not one forward pass all day - great work Lions!
Team: Jonty Corstorphine, Leo Grant, Liam Hawkins, Charlie Kalaher, Aurelia Rothery
Despite the foul weather, Sevenoaks Dragons never looked like losing all morning, winning all four games by at least two tries. All five players excelled, displaying all the key skills necessary for a successful tag rugby team. In attack, all the players ran fast and straight, with notable runs from the mazy Coby, mercurial Erin, and masterful Finn. Even more pleasing was that every runner always had a team mate following in support. On the rare occasions the opposition were able to tag one of our players, there was always a support player ready to take a pass and continue the move.
Our defence was resolute and kept their structure. George was the superstar tagger of the day and his relentless determination helped turn the tables in every game. The continuous pressure Sevenoaks exerted on the opposition led to a number of turnovers. Elliott, master of opportunism, demonstrated the importance of speed at the breakdown, getting first to a couple of dropped balls and sprinting home for two turnover tries.
Team: George Gallivan, Finn Ravens, Coby Sherlock, Elliott Stratton Erin Wimble
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Team: Nilan Van Assche, George Coulter, Zoe Gallivan, Isaac Monks, Zander Reay