Tahs take Shield at Limerick Sevens

Aug 12 • Australia, General News, Sevens Rugby • 1882 Views • Comments Off on Tahs take Shield at Limerick Sevens

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Photos: John Williamson

The NSW Waratahs took time to settle in their first appearance at the Limerick Sevens but came away with a 24-19 win over Saracens to claim the Shield.

Despite a slow first-day, the Waratahs did enough to quality for the Shield Final, coming away with an extra-time win to seal their first Sevens trophy in the northern hemisphere.

Said coach Daryl Gibson, “It was a steep learning curve as a lot of our boys have limited sevens experience.

“Arriving on Limerick on Thursday afternoon also hampered our physical condition but we expect to be in much better shape for the World Club Sevens in London.

“We have realised how important controlling possession and limiting turnovers are to the outcome of the game. We also struggled to adjust to the breakdown and were guilty of committing too many numbers to the ruck but we will improve,” enthused Gibson.

Seen as a lead-in to this year’s World Club Sevens at Twickenham, the Irish version hosted some of the biggest names in provincial club rugby from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Teams from the Limerick Sevens festival included Daveta (Fiji), Saracens, Stade Francais, Moscow, Auckland, New York, San Francisco Golden Gate, Vancouver, South Africa’s Blue Bulls, Western Provence, Munster and the NSW Waratahs.

In pool B with Vancouver Bears, Western Province and Staid Francais, the Tahs drew Canada’s British Colombian side to kick off the tournament.

Game one saw the Waratahs go down to the Canucks 19-15. Both teams scored three tries a piece with two tries to Jack Dempsey and one to Andrew Kellaway. But two conversions to the eventual finalists saw the Waratahs fall five short of victory.

The second game on day one had NSW take on South Africa’s Western Province. The boys from Cape Town were physically to strong and overpowered the Waratahs 17-24. It was three tries to four, with Tala Gray, Michael Adams and Dempsey the try scorers.

Determined not to lose three straight, the Waratahs lifted for the game against French Champions Staid Francais. The final scoreline, a 19-all draw enabled the Waratahs finish ninth overall. Powerhouse Taqele Naiyaravoro claimed a double while Demsey posted his fourth try in three games.

Day two and the Sunday play-offs pitched the Waratahs against twelth-placed San Francisco Golden Gate for a place in the Shield Final.

The Tahs finally found some rhythm and showed their true running game, decimating the Americans five tries to nil in the 29-0 thrashing. Kellaway opened the scoring, Naiyaravoro claimed back to back tries while Brendan McKibbin and Joel Brooks also crossed.

That put the Waratahs up against London club Saracens in the Shield Final and whilst it might not have been the trophy the Waratahs were aiming at in the beginning, it wasn’t about to stop the Tahs winning their first Sevens trophy in the northern hemisphere.

It was tight from the outset, the Waratahs lead early on after Naiyaravoro posted the opening try and then looked like running away with the win when Lalakai Foketi stretched their lead. Saracens fought back in the second half but a try to David Horwitz put the Waratahs ahead by five. Saracens refused to raise the white flag and scored a try almost on the stroke of full-time to lock it up at 19-all.

The game went into extra time and it was the Waratahs who rose to the occasion, with Randwick’s 20-year-old Horwitz leading the charge, crossing for the match-winning golden point try after a couple of touches to seal the win, along with the silverware.

Gibson knows there’s a lot of improvement to come but was pleased with the team’s initial hit out. “A number of younger players showed there true potential, in particular Jack Dempsey and Andrew Kellaway. Both were impressive. Josh Holmes was another excellent performer and Taqele Naiyaravoro proved a crowd favourite with some typical storming runs.”

Daveta (Fiji) won the major title and will head to the World Club Sevens this weekend at Twickenham as favourites but Gibson warns against writing the Tahs off, saying they’ll be better for the run.

“We are learning fast – coaches included!

“Watching the other more experienced sides at the tournament gave us an opportunity to learn from the best teams and the methods that are successful. We will be much better prepared with a tournament under our belt and knowing what to expect.”

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