Launceston flex their muscles at the Cornwall sevens
A tough competition against Cornwalls finest leaves All Blacks wanting more
This years under 14 sevens tournament was in Liskeard. Launceston headed down with a squad of 12 players eager to have a crack at the fast flowing format following a good showing last year. The squad comprised Ollie Tomkies, Nicky Crighton, Alex Maciver-Redwood, Tom Lowe, Freddie Ward, Billy Martin, Jack Goodman, Finn Stiles, Finn Hilsdon, Sam Sharman, Ben Webb and Adam Howgill.
Another beautiful sunny day and hard, fast pitches greeted the team. Twelve teams represented the counties club teams in three groups of four. The draw is always a nervous time and, sure enough, Launceston were pitched against perennial rivals Truro, Newquay and Penryn.
First up Truro. The games in the Launceston pool were to be played on the smaller school pitch which rendered the games more like a regular game with little space to exploit. However, with coaches Ben Hawke and Fred Bulet pulling the strings the boys set about their task with real vigour. Both sides were slightly cagey and were obviously working out how best to approach the shortened format. The sides were scoreless at half time with both teams going close but the defences dominating. In the second half, Truro adapted to the small pitch better playing a more direct game and then going wide with real conviction. The intensity and precision of the Truro attack resulted in three second half tries and a feeling that the boys missed an opportunity to make a positive start.
Full time 0-3
The second match was against Penryn. The boys in red and black had some useful players but didn’t have the continuity of Truro. As the match developed Launceston asserted themselves and started to find some shape in attack. The half-time score was 1-1 with a long range effort from Ollie Tomkies. The second half saw some excellent work from all the Launceston players. Decision making was much improved and the boys movement off the ball created plenty of scoring opportunities. Tries from Finn Hilsdon, Ollie Tomkies, a great long range effort from the restart from Sam Sharman and Nicky Crighton enabled the All Blacks to pull away and finish the game strongly.
Full time 6-2
The final game of the group was against the mighty Newquay with past Launceston captain Dan Tucker in tow. Launceston knew they had to roll out their A-game to have any chance of competing. The Launceston players really took it to their vaunted opponents and matched them with a first half score from Freddie Ward leaving the half time score 1-1. Newquay made some changes in the second half and produced some really precise passing and moved Launceston around the park with increasing confidence. They scored two further, well worked unanswered tries to take the game away from the All Blacks and leave them in third place in the competitive group.
Full time 1-3
The second round of games was played against the other third placed teams from the other groups - Bude and home team Liskeard.
Now playing on a bigger pitch with more space Launceston intended to up the work rate and take it to Bude to avenge the disappointing defeat from earlier in the season. However, the pasties and burgers obviously sat heavily in the boys stomachs as they struggled to generate any intensity. The All Blacks were just that little bit slower to the breakdown, sluggish to re-align in defence and attack and allowed the outstanding Bude speedster too much space. The Half time score was 0-1 and it was difficult to see how the boys could pull this one back. However, a solo effort from Ollie Tomkies levelled the score early in the second half and there was hope. However, two further tries from the Bude paceman finished the game and Launceston were well beaten by Bude again.
Final score 1-3
The final game was against a much improved Liskeard unit. The first half was very even with both teams probing and looking for the decisive break. The big Liskeard players were penalised for various indiscretions and allowed Launceston to settle and take control. However, a solo effort by the Liskeard 13 tipped it back in the home teams favour. Half time 0-1. A string of Launceston changes for the second half transformed the All Blacks attack and they opened up to finish their tournament with some champagne rugby. A brace of tries from Ollie Tomkies, Alex Maciver-Redwood and Freddie Ward demolished the Liskeard resolve and left the Launceston players on a high.
Final score 6-1
Well done to the boys for putting in a big effort. There were some excellent skills on show and they thoroughly enjoyed the shortened version of the game. As always, the draw seemed to be against them and left a sense of slight disappointment as they had approached the tournament with a real sense of expectation. May be next year boys.