Perse score in final seconds to clinch sevens cup
Tournament report by Head of Rugby Liam St John
The Perse rugby purple army swang back into action yesterday, with the U18 side scooping the cup as overall winners of the Cambridge RFC Sevens competition at Volac Park.
The day started as grimly as the blustery weather with the side narrowly losing out to SGS Filton College. After a promising start by The Perse side, the team from Bristol clawed back the deficit and eventually took the win with a last play of the game try, final score 26-19. The Perse bounced back in their second pool game against a Moulton College ‘B’ side in emphatic fashion, winning 49-12. Late pull outs from teams meant The Perse side progressed to the quarter finals of the cup competition after only two games.
A local derby loomed with The Perse facing neighbours Hills Road 6th Form college, who were no doubt out seeking revenge for their earlier defeat in the Natwest Cup back in October. The game was given extra spice with many of the players being club-mates through the youth age groups. In the end, The Perse ran out comfortable winners at 43-7, with a performance based around solid defence and patient build up in attack.
The semi-finals saw The Perse face rugby powerhouse Hartpury College, an AASE centre which effectively serves as the Gloucester rugby academy. Nerves were tense before the game knowing the challenge coming and as the game unfolded, players and spectators alike remained on edge. The game remained finely poised throughout, with both teams playing at lightening intensity, probing for weakness in the opposition defence. As the final whistle rang out, the scores remained locked at 19-19, with a few bemused faces as to what happens next. Golden try extra-time followed, with both teams having to dig deep in to their energy reserves. Patient build up from The Perse attack led to a break out from the right hand side of their own 22m. Hugo Chambre managed to offload a ball to Toby Hackett, who carried to midfield before finding James Knoop in support, James drawing the final defender and feeding Tom Sherrington-Scales who sprinted free of the scrambling cover defence to touch down in the left hand corner. The referee raised his arm to award the try and The Perse were into the final.
The final saw The Perse side face up against Moulton College ‘A’, another AASE side, this time functioning as Northampton Saints’ academy set up. A stuttering first half saw both teams digging deep into their energy reserves, many players starting to cramp up. Half-time rang out with the scores still locked at 0-0. The second half kicked off and The Perse managed to sneak into an early 5-0 lead, before relying on their robust defence to hold out the Moulton side who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession. Pressure eventually took its toll with Moulton scoring quick back to back tries to go 10-5 ahead. With thirty seconds left and tanks running on empty, it looked as if The Perse side’s luck had run out. Moulton kicked off and The Perse side played to the right touchline, looking to stretch the Moulton defence. At the ensuing ruck, captain Harry Hitchcock chanced his arm and in trademark fashion made a break down the narrowest of blind side spaces, chipping over the cover defence before gathering and collapsing under the posts with the ball tucked safely under his arm. The try was awarded and James Knoop added the formalities from in front of the posts to draw the game to a close; final score 12-10 to The Perse. A jubilant set of players and spectators celebrated a hard-fought and well-earned victory.
The Perse side now travel to the Rosslyn Park National School Sevens competition to compete in the festival on Wednesday 26th March. Updates on the day will be available on twitter by following @PerseRugby and @SportPerse