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The Sevens Summer Season in the Pacific North was kicked off on Saturday with the Modesto 7s in Manteca, Calif. As the first men’s qualifier in Northern California, eight teams vied for the tournament points to advance to the Pacific North ACR1 Championships in San Francisco on July 30th. Continuing its success during the 15s season, Santa Rosa claimed the tournament trophy beating Life West, 15-10.
“Teamwork and a new attacking and defensive pattern [were key to winning the tournament],” Santa Rosa 7s coach Josefa Maitiro said. “Felise Gadeisuva and Vasi Mavia were outstanding players, but my bench players were the heroes of the tournament. We were not fit enough and we needed our bench to help us out. They did a wonderful job.”
The two pools consisted of SFGG, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and the EPA Razorbacks in Group A and Life West, East Bay, the Sacramento Lions, and the Olympic Club in Group B. The play was great and based on the performances on the pitch; it was anyone’s tournament to be won.
In Group A, Santa Rosa emerged from the pool with wins over San Jose and SFGG and a 12-12 tie against EPA to beat out SFGG for a spot in the Cup Final. Life West won the top spot in Group B going undefeated in pool play amassing a total of 91 points that included a close 21-14 win over the Olympic Club, led by former Eagle Colin Hawley.
In the final between Santa Rosa and Life West, the Gladiators excelled in the first half with Tyler Harrison and Charlie Brennan scoring tries and led 10-0 at the break. Santa Rosa started the second half down a man, but fought out of the hole to even the score with tries by Lui Kabanaivalu and Josefa Uqeuqe. In the final minute of play, Inoke Malo scored in corner to win the tournament for Rosa.
Life West coach Adriaan Ferris believed that the Modesto 7s was a very positive first tournament for his side. It gave his squad an opportunity for a young, inexperienced side with a lot of potential to be tested at senior level event.
“I think the key for Santa Rosa in the final was their experience and ability to keep the ball alive in the tackle,” Ferris stated. “With Life West leading 12-0 at halftime, we probably showed a lack of experience and went away from what we did in the first half to have the lead”.
“We lacked discipline to be patient on attack and turned the ball over inside our half, which led to a soft try just after the start of the 2nd half,” Ferris added. “From there, we did not compose ourselves to adjust to the situation at hand. Whilst we had moments to extend our lead, Santa Rosa was desperate on defense and, ultimately, the bounce of the ball went their way today.”
With many traditional sevens players playing for Sacramento and San Francisco in PRO Rugby, the field has evened out with all teams having a chance to succeed. The top five teams in Santa Rosa, Life West, SFGG, the Olympic Club, and the EPA Razorbacks will be jockeying for position all summer. The difference between the clubs is very slim. With increased training over the coming weeks, each team will improve as the summer goes on.
With the first of four qualifiers in the books, the next stop is the Sacramento 7s on June 25th. All teams will be ready and better than they were in Modesto and the action in NorCal is shaping up to be exciting for the summer.