J.P Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series
Falcons hope to go one better
July 28, 2011
Falcons' flyer Luke Fielden will hope to make his mark on Friday evening © Getty Images
The final pool stage of the J.P Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series kicks off in front of the ESPN cameras at Sale's Edgeley Park home on Friday night.
The four remaining Premiership sides yet to take to the field in this year's tournament - Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons - will hope to follow in the footsteps of Harlequins, Bath Rugby, London Wasps and Saracens in qualifying for the final at the Stoop on Friday, August 5.
Newcastle - who lost last year's final against Saracens - will look to build on their Sevens pedigree which saw them scoop the Middlesex Sevens in 2007. Hosts Sale, however, will look to home support to guide them through their three matches on the evening.
With all four sides embracing the tournament's focus on youth, the players who are used to perhaps playing in the shadows of their first-team counterparts will hope for a place in the spotlight come Friday evening.
Sale have named a young side for Friday's tournament clash but have included first-team players Will Cliff, Tom Brady and Will Addison in their 12-man squad. Brady - who started last season in electric form running in seven tries for the first-team - suffered from shoulder problems but will hope to re-assert his claim for a starting spot in the Sale first team. Cliff will captain the side and has already accrued 21 Premiership games for Sale. Versatile back Addison will hope to continue his good form at the close of the 2010-11 season and impress academy/transition coach Pete Anglesea.
Anglesea - who briefly took charge of Sale last season - is looking for the players to prove to the coaches exactly what they are made of. "We've picked a squad that has got a huge amount of ambition," he said. "There are some faces whom people won't have seen before, plus several who played for the Jets last year.
"We want to play exciting rugby at a quick tempo. We're using this tournament as a stepping stone to put lads under pressure, to see where they're up to at the start of the season."
Premiership newcomers Worcester Warriors have included former England Sevens international Danny Gray in their ranks. He will line-up alongside England U20 internationals Andy Short and Matt Kvesic, who both impressed during the 2011 Junior World Championships. Versatile back Mike Penn will captain the side and will be joined by other Warriors Academy players, of which six have already played first-team rugby for the club. The squad will be coached by Andrew Stanley and Gary Meechan.
Aviva Premiership runners-up Leicester Tigers have also named a young squad but will call upon the experience of former Bristol flyer Lee Robinson. The squad will be captained by 19-year-old Alex Lewington, a versatile back, who will line up alongside development XV regulars Rob Conquest, Ed Rolston and Jethro Rawling. Lewington - who made two first team appearances in last season's Anglo-Welsh Cup - insists it is an honour to pull on a Tigers shirt whatever the competition. "It's awesome to wear a Tigers shirt," Lewington said. "It's always a special feeling every time you put one on and you cannot take it for granted. You want to treasure it."
Academy manager Neil McCarthy hopes the competition will catapult a few of the players into first-team reckoning while the World Cup is on saying: "This year in particular, because there are senior players away at the World Cup, it gives some of the younger players an opportunity to show their worth."
The Newcastle Falcons will be hoping to go one better than last year and win the 2011 Sevens series. They have clearly laid down a marker with their team selection fielding a squad brimming with first-teamers.
New signings Ryan Shortland, Will Chudley and Richard Mayhew all pull on a Falcons jersey for the first time while Luke Fielden - who scored nine tries last term - will hope to terrorise opposition defences. The Falcons line-up also features first-team fullback Alex Tait and talented fly-half Joel Hodgson - who has spent the summer bulking up in a bid to assert himself in the Falcons first-team.
Group C Fixtures:
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