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The Northeast 7s Series resumes this weekend with the Hellgate 7s on Randall's Island in New York. Old Blue took the first qualifier, but a tough Mystic River team is looking to even the score in enemy territory.
The Mystics are still jelling as a team, as it is their first 7s season as a newly organized program. With Boston not fielding a premiership squad, Mystic picked up several players from their local rivals. Additionally, the acquistions of Pono Haitsuka and Samoan national Alatasi Tupou have the team looking to build some continuity as the summer continues.
“We are looking to jell a little bit and come together as a club,” said Mystic River coach Josh Smith. “It has been a work in progress with some of the new faces we have brought in.”
Tupou arrived very late as it was unclear whether it was logistically feasible to bring the Samoan scrumhalf in. As a family friend of on the Mystic players, he indicated that he was interested in possibly coming to the States for the summer.
“In April or May, he had mentioned that in his offseason he was going to be home and wanted to play a little bit. At first we were kind of like that is a bit of a stretch and were not sure if we could get it done. We started hammering some stuff out. His interest was there, and obviously bringing a player of that caliber is an awesome opportunity for everybody involved,” said Smith.
Things worked out logistically for the club and Tupou made his first appearance in Newport. He is sure to make an impact going forward.
“Hopefully in a couple of weeks and we get everything settled in and everyone more comfortable, things will be looking good,” Smith added. “He is obviously a high caliber player. His tackling, his running, his footskills are a whole different level.”
Mystic River split with Old Blue in the last tournament and both teams looked to be the class of the Northeast. The New York side made some key adjustments and won the physical battle in order to take the first tournament.
“I got to give Old Blue a lot of credit. We were pretty good against them early in the tournament and they kind of flipped it around a little bit. In the final, the second half they came out guns blazing and they really beat us up in the contact area and took advantage of the turnovers,” Smith concluded.
With three tournaments to play, both squads should become quite familiar with one another. This week, however, if all goes to plan, they should only meet once in the Cup Final.