JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series
Sarries and Wasps qualify for final
July 22, 2011
Short was in spectacular form for Saracens finishing the evening with five tries to his name © Getty Images
Saracens started the 2011 JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series in the same manner they finished the first - winning the second round of the series at Franklin's Gardens on Friday evening.
The defending champions fielded a squad that had a blend of youth and experience and in James Short had the standout player on the night. Sarries - who also had US Eagles international Chris Wyles in their ranks - qualified for the final by winning all three of their matches.
Short's hat-trick in Saracens' win over Northampton Saints was the highlight of the night but in their ranks Saracens possessed a side perfectly moulded for the short format of the game. While Short will take the headlines, Wyles and former London Irish wing Marcus Watson also put in excellent shifts for the champions.
Despite an inspired performance from Gloucester's Gareth Evans it was not enough for them to qualify for the final, with London Wasps defeating Northampton Saints in their final match of the night to go through to the finale at the Stoop with two wins to their name.
Gloucester took the opening game of the evening, turning over the hosts 26-14.
Northampton Saints scored the opening try of the night with former England Under-18 international Anders Mogensen sprinting in from 60-metres out, showing a rapid turn of pace. Gloucester - coached by No.8 Luke Narraway - soon struck back through Mark Woodrow and took the lead soon after following a score from Evans. The Saints, however, had the final say of the first-half with captain Scott Armstrong exploiting an overlap to crash over.
Gloucester retook the lead through Fred Burdon - who has played in two Varsity matches for Cambridge - who took advantage of an extra man following an injury to a Saints player. Evans extended the lead with a great dummy in the midfield to put the game beyond the hosts' grasp.
Saracens opened their in style running in a 22-14 win over London Wasps. Sarries nearly took the lead through Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier when he kicked ahead, but he failed to catch the ball in the dead ball area. Short - who scored a try for Saracens in their Premiership final win over Leicester - ran in the champions' opening try of the night. The 21-year-old then showed his pace once again for his side's second try of the match, crashing over in the corner. US Eagles international Wyles - who has been named in Eddie O'Sullivan's reduced 36-man squad for the Rugby World Cup - scored Sarries' third try before the break.
Wyles opened the scoring in the second-half, utilising Short's neat decoy. Mark Billings scored Wasps' first try of the evening and Joe Burton - scoring the 50th try for this season's Sevens series - crossed the line soon after to put pressure back on the champions. However, Sarries held onto claim a 22-14 win.
Despite having a ten minute turnaround, Wasps thrashed Gloucester 31-5 in the evening's third game. Wasps scored the opening try of the match though Will Robinson. Despite a promising opening, Gloucester's Burdon restored parity with a score soon after. Wasps struck back through the rapid former Scarlets wing Joseph Tariperiajua - which meant the Adams Park side went into the break 12-5 ahead.
Wasps started the second-half in the same manner they started the first, with Charlie Ingall crossing the line following a great break from England Sevens international Alex Cheesman. Billings soon scored Wasps fourth try of the match, securing the bonus point. Wasps' fifth try of the match was a dubious effort as there was a clear knock-on in the build up but Jonah Holmes' effort was allowed to count, stretching the lead to 31-5.
Saracens then won their second game of the night thrashing Northampton 29-7. Bruzulier scored Sarries' first try of the match, running in following good work from Wyles. Saints tried to force their way back into the game but were playing a form of rugby more conducive to the 15-man game rather than the shorter format. Short soon ran in his third try of the night to put the reigning champions into the break 12-0 ahead.
Not content with losing his tag as the night's joint top scorer, Wyles added his third try of the evening at the start of the second-half to further stretch their lead over the hosts. Flying winger Short then retook the mantle of top try-scorer, securing the bonus point for Saracens soon after. The winger showed no signs of relenting and secured his hat-trick moments later. Tom Collins, aged just 17, had the final say of the match crossing the line for the hosts following a superb solo effort.
In the fifth game of the evening Gloucester threatened a major upset against Saracens but were eventually undone in the last play of the match with the champions prevailing 28-22.
Gloucester shocked the champions by scoring the opening try of the match through Hartpury College student Ian Clarke - who chipped through and grounded the ball over the line. Olly Robinson - son of Scotland coach Andy - put the Cherry and Whites further in the lead moments later with a poachers' effort in the corner. Sarries struck back though through Watson, who ran the ball from his own 22 and performed a stunning side-step en route to the try line. However, Sarries' joy was short-lived with Gloucester's standout player Evans racing down the wing to score.
Following a half-time dressing down, Sarries struck back at the start of the second-half through Wyles. Bruzulier's score in the second minute of the half put Sarries back in the lead. However, following a yellow card for Saracens' Watson, Gloucester sniffed a potential upset and eventually crossed the line through Reuben Haile. In the last play of the match Scott Spurling scored the decisive try to preserve Saracens' unbeaten record in the tournament.
In the night's final game London Wasps faced hosts Northampton and the London side qualified for the final win a 19-7 win. Saints opened the scoring through Collins but Ingall struck back for Wasps moments later. Tariperiajua soon put Wasps in the lead showing a mixture of power and pace in his path to the try line. Holmes crossed the line at the start of the second-half to give the Adams Park side some breathing space. But neither side could add to the scoreboard with the game descending into a scrappy affair.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.