By Josh Bartholomew
Hampton’s 1st VII narrowly missed out on Cup victory at the Founder’s Day Sevens, falling to a strong Cranleigh side in the final of the opening tournament of the season.
Hampton were placed in a challenging group, but started encouragingly, sealing a 26-14 victory over Caterham with a fine late try from Dan Finlay. Caterham fought back well after a positive Hampton start, which saw the home team move into a 12-0 lead through tries from George Price and Elias Petrenko, before Finlay’s timely finish was enough to secure the points for Hampton.
In their second game, Hampton needed a last-minute try from Aidan Barry to secure the points having fought back from 12-5 down with only minutes remaining against John Fisher. Barry scythed through the defence in the last play to keep Hampton’s unbeaten record intact.
As legs began to tire, Hampton faced difficult opponents in RGS High Wycombe, who, like Hampton, had won all their games up to this point. Despite the tough opposition, the 1st VII were in typically fine form, winning 33-12. The pick of the tries came from Tommy Nagle, who surged through the defence before sprinting home from half-way.
In the final group game, the 1st VII faced St. Benedict’s in a rematch of the final XVs game of the season earlier this month. It was another hotly contested affair, but Hampton were able to secure the draw they needed to progress to the final thanks to a delightful try from Jamie Benson.
Having qualified for the final as group winners, Hampton faced a powerful Cranleigh side in an attempt to win their third Cup title in four years. The 1st VII started the stronger of the two sides to take a 14-5 lead through Benson’s pace, before an interesting interlude as the fields’ sprinklers came on, forcing the teams to move pitches.
Hampton playmaker Jamie Benson said: “There were a lot of positives to be taken from a set of very encouraging performances, but a fair result in the final against a very good Cranleigh side has given us plenty to work on for our next tournament.”