By Josh Bartholomew
Hampton’s 1st VII made up for a disappointing season by winning the plate at the prestigious Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens. After a positive first day in which the team won two of three games, against Halliford and Glantaf, they progressed to the Plate quarter final groups.
Despite losing to Coleg Sir Gar in the quarter final group stages, the team did progress to the semis as best runners up, though to reach the final they’d have to face the Welsh team again. This initially seemed to be a challenge for Hampton, as they trailed 0-14 at half-time, but eventually the deficit was no obstacle for a resilient Hampton side, who set up a plate final clash with Hartpury College.
Hampton once again fell behind, this time to an opportunistic quick tap with only a minute on the clock. One could’ve been forgiven for calling Hampton’s challenge impossible against a traditional English rugby powerhouse comprising of multiple Gloucester academy representatives. But Hampton’s plucky seven fought back well, eventually forcing a knock-on after two minutes of Hartpury pressure inside the 22 after the opening try.
Hartpury then found themselves a man short, with the referee opting to send their number 7 to the sin bin after a cynical offence at the ruck. Soon after this Shane Barry was able to score Hampton’s opening try under the posts, with an exquisite turn and go to level the scores after six minutes.
With the clock dead, Hartpury chose to roll the dice and attempt to run from deep, though Hampton’s numerical advantage paid dividends as they stole the ball from the ruck, and crossed in the corner to take a 12-7 lead into the break.
Hartpury’s first mistake of the half came with the first kick of the half, as their kick-off didn’t travel the required distance. Hampton were able to take advantage of this error, with Shane Barry scoring his second try from the ensuing quick-tap to give his team a commanding 19-7 lead.
Hampton’s defence was once again resolute, and they were able to deny Hartpury a route back into the game despite a three-on-one opportunity. The 1st VII were proving themselves to be perfectly capable at this level, and once more capitalised on poor Hartpury errors, this time travelling the length of the field to put the result beyond doubt.
Hartpury were able to bounce back with a try, and it was only more sublime defence from Hampton that kept their lead at 12 points. The 1st VII did have to remain solid in the closing stages, but managed to do so and sealed their 29-12 Plate victory with a sumptuous try with the clock dead.