By Josh Bartholomew
Hampton avenged last season’s defeat in the final of the Founders’ Day 7s with a stunning victory over Cranleigh, but how did they get there?
Hampton 26-17 St. Benedict’s
Hampton kicked-off the tournament with a comfortable 26-17 win over St. Benedict’s. It didn’t take long for the home team to be ignited into action, as Jamie Benson broke through from his own 22. After a delightful offload to Jesper Hartikainen, captain Pat Silcox broke through with a skilful sidestep to score.
Their seven-point lead soon became 14 as Benson was at the centre of the action once again, this time scoring himself after powerfully tackling a St. Benedict’s carrier before stealing the ball and breaking through to score.
Within minutes, Hampton scored again, this time through the pace of winger Dan Finlay, who sped round the outside to score in the corner.
St. Benedict’s weren’t going down easily, though, and struck back twice in quick succession. First, they broke from deep to score a scintillating try under the posts, before taking advantage of a defensive mishap from the scrum to score unopposed in the corner.
Hampton’s lead was still nine points, and U16 Ben Freer – on First Team debut – scored a fantastic try after stepping two defenders to put the result beyond much doubt, despite a late St. Benedict’s consolation.
Hampton 24-12 Hurstpierpoint
Hampton went two from two with a convincing victory over Hurstpierpoint. After being knocked out of last season’s national cup campaign at Hurst, there was more than just points at play for a Hampton team seeking revenge.
Silcox was pivotal for Hampton, breaking through the defence once again, this time finding Joe Sykes who gave the home team their first points of the game.
Powerful ball-carrier Tim Lamming had imposed himself going forward already in the tournament, but now his defensive nous was coming to the fore. He intercepted just when Hurst appeared to be gathering momentum, before surging towards the line, offloading to Jesper Hartikainen who stepped past the recovering defenders to score.
Hampton continued their dominance, as USA U18 7s star Aidan Barry scored once more to open up a 19-0 lead with a break from the deep. When Sykes scored another try after Ben Freer’s run, Hampton’s win looked secured.
Though Hurst bounced back with two late tries, Hampton’s win was already secured.
Hampton 26-5 Brighton College
In what was expected to be the group decider as two prestigious rugby schools faced off, Hampton continued their strong campaign with a convincing victory over Brighton College.
The home side quickly raced into an unassailable lead, First, winger Joe Sykes was freed in space on the flank, sprinting into the corner to open the scoring.
His fellow outside back Pat Silcox was also starring, setting up perhaps Hampton’s finest try of the tournament so far. With a nifty sidestep, Silcox broke through the line of Brighton defenders, before finding Benson inside with a clever flick-pass, who ran under the posts.
Hampton’s relentless attacking skill continued, and their lead was extended to 19-0 after Dan Finlay sprinted round the outside to score.
The home team were able to carry on their fine form after the interval, as Sykes scored his second try by breaking through powerfully. Brighton’s late try never threatened to overturn the Hampton lead.
Hampton 24-5 St. John’s Leatherhead
One win away from reaching the Cup final for a second consecutive year, Hampton faced a St. John’s side who, themselves, were unbeaten in Group A.
Winger Joe Sykes continued his sparkling form, scoring his fifth try of the tournament in the corner after skilful passing from England U18 Benson created space.
When Pat Silcox broke through again from his own line before passing to Benson who scored, Hampton now had a crucial 14-0 lead as the fatigue set-in to both teams’ legs after three gruelling encounters.
Dan Finlay’s powerful outside surge added extra gloss to the first-half score-line, before Joe Sykes managed to notch up his sixth try with a powerful break to the tryline.
After both teams lost men to the sinbin, St John’s scored their first try, but the match finished 24-5.