from the Leicester Mercury
Leicester Tigers beat the fancied Samurais in a humdinger of a final
at Welford Road yesterday to lift the inaugural Hewlett Packard
Premier Sevens trophy.
The Tigers fought back from 31-19 down to beat what was the Welsh
national team in all but name 36-31 and send a 6,000 crowd absolutely
Tigers' bank manager will also be pretty pleased because the club
picked up 30,000 to go with the 50,000 bonus from sponsors Vauxhall
for winning the Allied Dunbar Premiership title.
Showing the same indomitable spirit that won them the league, Tigers
hit back with tries by Jamie Hamilton and Paul Gustard in the seventh
minute of the second half to tie the scores and then Pat Howard,
arguably the man of the tournament, clinched victory with a fantastic
40-metre solo right on time.
It was the perfect finale to Matt Poole's testimonial event and a
marvellous season for the final was easily the best game of the day,
producing 11 tries, seven in a roller-coaster of a first half, Craig
Morgan (2), Kevin Morgan and Andy Williams crossing for the Samurais,
Will Greenwood, captain Neil Back and Andy Goode for the Tigers.
When Craig Morgan scored his hat-trick try five minutes after the
interval it looked all over but Tigers, even without the injured
Austin Healey and Leon Lloyd, refused to lie down.
The weather, which attempted to go through all the seasons and was at
times cold enough to warrant thermals and several hip flasks, did not
deter the punters, 6,000 turning up to make it another carnival
They were a touch thirsty, too, the sold-out signs going up at 1pm in
the car park after 2,000 bottles had disappeared in just one and a
Leicester and Samurais had looked odds-on to reach the final from the
start, although Tigers' journey was not without its potholes because
they picked up a few injuries, most notably a twisted ankle for Austin
Healey which will keep him out of Sunday's Barbarians game, and an SOS
was despatched to Dave Lougheed and Tim Stimpson.
Tigers got there with comfortable victories over Bedford, Saracens and
the University Barbarians, a team of Leicester youngsters who stepped
in at the 11th hour when Newcastle failed to turn up, no doubt to the
chagrin of those supporters who did.
If anything, the Samurais were even more impressive in beating
Northampton, Bath and London Irish and a look at their cv told why.
Since forming in 1996 they have played in 13 tournaments, reaching
nine finals and winning seven.
All told it was a rollicking good day, made even better by a tackle in
a women's exhibition event between Worcester and Lichfield which one
of the spectators, former Tigers and Wales flanker Paul Ringer, would
have been hard pushed to better.
Good enough, perhaps, to suggest that Tigers and the sponsors, Hewlett
Packard, who are monitoring the success of the tournament, may want
to make it an annual event.
Poole said: ``Considering the weather it has been a fantastic success.
I was in the car park this morning and it was hammering it down, not
the sort of thing you want for a sevens tournament which is reliant on
``But we've had the best part of 6,000 here during the course of the
day and everyone keeps coming up and saying they've had a fantastic
time, do it again next year. That's what we want to hear.
``Personally, it has been enjoyable. Stressful, but enjoyable, and I'd
like to thank everyone who has been involved.''
All Black Carlos Spencer, ex-pected to sign for Tigers next season and
currently over here with the Barbarians, was among those who popped in
to savour the atmosphere.
All the Sevens event details
First round: Saracens 26 Public School Wanderers 10
Tigers 38 Bedford 5
Hinckley 21 University Barbarians 28
Gloucester 38 Sale Sharks 14
Wasps 14 Bath 25
Northampton 7 Samurais 36
Harlequins 12 London Irish 22
Bristol 12 Fiji Spartans 24
Second round: Saracens 0 Tigers 24
Univ Baa-baas 25 Gloucester 14
Bath 7 Samurais 24
London Irish 14 Fiji Spartans 12
Semi-finals: Tigers 35 Univ Baa-baas 12
Samurais 27 London Irish 5
Final: Tigers 36 Samurais 31
Tigers Tries: Greenwood, Back, Goode, Hamilton, Gustard, Howard.
Conversions: Goode (3)
Samurais Tries: K Morgan, C Morgan (3), A Williams
Conversions: P Williams (3)
Tigers: A Goode, A Balding, J Hamilton, W Greenwood, P Howard, N Back
(capt), D Lougheed.
Samurais: P Williams, K Morgan, C Morgan, O Williams, J Evans, J
Ringer, S Wynn.
Plate: Hinckley 12 Sale Sharks 26
Wasps 26 Northampton 40
Harlequins 14 Bristol 31
Semi-finals: Public School Wanderers 40 Sale Sharks 17
Bristol 33 Northampton 17
Final: PSW 10 Bristol 52
Garry (Leicester FC EX Tiger bar team)