10 U14s teams from across the county gathered for the end of season Worthing 7s Festival. The format was to split into two pools of five with the top two going through to a semi-final and final knockout stage. It would be fair to say that Pool 1 was the stronger with Lewes, Crowborough, Horsham 1s, Uckfield and Edenbridge and Pool 2 consisting of Worthing, Horsham 2s, Burgess Hill/Seaford, Crawley and Shoreham.
See photos of the tournament here>> and here>>
Lewes made a strong start against Crowborough winning 43-0 before what was something of an upset losing a very tight game against Uckfield 19-20. Uckfield played well and capitalised on a few rare Lewes handling errors to be two tries up and despite a late fight back and converting two of their three tries to be in with a shot of turning the game around, Lewes ended up losing by four tries to three.
Coach Ben Green said "Whether it was complaceny, having one eye on the next game against Horsham game or not giving Uckfield the respect they were due I'm not sure, in truth probably an element of all three". Having only lost one game earlier on in 2017 it was an unfamiliar feeling for the squad and with Horsham having beaten Uckfield in an earlier pool game, Lewes faced potentially being third in their group and not making the knockout stages.
Lewes needed have worried as in the next game they dominated Horsham winning 43-0 with such control that when Horsham were in possession the defence was so strong in repelling the attack that they elected to chipping over the top as the only means of making any meaningful progress over the gain line.
The final pool game was against an Edenbridge side that although had lost every game at that point possessed some new talented but inexperienced players who showed that they will develop into a good side next season. They deservedly managed to score a try where Horsham had struggled previously. However the fitness and strength of the Lewes squad meant they ran out 50-5 winners having targeted a big score to ensure qualification to the knockout stages.
Although Horsham 1s, Uckfield and Lewes all ended up on equal points having lost one game each, Lewes topped the pool on points difference with Uckfield 2nds. This set up a semi-final of Lewes against Horsham B, runners up in Pool 2. Uckfield faced the winners of Pool 2, Worthing.
Horsham 2s in a Dodgeball inspired Average Joe’s bright yellow kit bolstered due to injury with some of Horsham 1s was an extremely tense, competitive game with an exhibition of great skills in attack and defence from both sides. Whilst over the last few years Lewes have shown quite how dangerous they can be with ball in hand going forward, both in this game and in the pool stages the passion and determination in defence was determined, probably the differentiator in this game leading to a 22-19 victory to Lewes.
With Uckfield beating Worthing in the other semi it was nicely teed up for a Lewes/Uckfield rematch of in the final. The Lewes Lions were keen to make amends for the earlier loss and seemed sharper from the first whistle in the final and having learnt from their loss dominated the final from the start being 31-0 up at half time and finishing the game 45-5.
So in summary Lewes were well deserved Winners of the Worthing 7s for a second year in a row.
Updated 14:36 - 14 Jun 2017 by Peter Barron