After winning the Seaford 7s last week, Epsom’s 1st VII headed down to Portsmouth Grammar School for the South Coast 7s. With a number of key personnel returning from academy duty, confidence was high amongst the squad and Epsom cruised through the opening pool games.
Wins against Canford (21-5), Royal Hospital School (17-0) and last week’s final opponents Gordon’s (33-0) set up a quarter-final match against Sherborne.
Tries from Nilesh Raghavan (P) and two from George Addington (Rn) were enough to see off the challenge of Sherborne (21-7) and set up a semi-final match against Denstone College, who had beaten Millfield in their previous game. Right from the kick-off, a turnover from Makeen Alikhan (Rn) set the tone. Epsom were relentless both with and without the ball, playing some impressive 7s in extremely difficult conditions. Tries from Nilesh Raghavan (P), Makeen Alikhan (Rn), Kitan Ojo (H) x2 and one from Shaun How Teo (Fa) saw Epsom progress through to their second consecutive final 35-5.
Despite being the form team leading into this final, Epsom’s performance was really disappointing. The cohesion and attacking precision which was so evident earlier in the day went missing and, to their credit, Whitchurch High School took full advantage of Epsom’s mistakes.
Epsom dominated the majority of this match and only had one try to show for this leading into half time, Daniel Davies (C) going over after a sustained period of attack. A number of unforced errors allowed Whitchurch back into the game and with a player in the sin bin they scored a try to make the score 7-12.
Leading from the front, Makeen Alikhan (Rn), who was outstanding throughout the day, scored with a minute to go and with Tom Lynagh’s (F) conversion sliding agonisingly wide, the score remained at 12-12. An error right from the kick-off gave possession back to Whitchurch, who took full advantage and after a number of phases scored in the corner to win the game. Epsom were unable to back up last week’s win and had to settle for runners up.
A disappointing way to finish the tournament, but no doubt a number of important lessons learnt in defeat by this group, as they continue in their preparations ahead of the Surrey’s and National tournaments next month.
WON 21-5 vs Canford School
WON 17-0 vs Royal Hospital School
WON 33-0 vs Gordon’s School
Cup Quarter Final
WON 21-7 vs Sherborne
Cup Semi Final
WON 35-5 vs Denstone College
Lost 12-17 vs Whitchurch High School