The Seven10s went back-to-back and the Milthorpe Mountain Goats, laden with stars of the inaugural champion St Stanislaus side, took out the title at the Active Axons Blue Mountains and Greater West Rugby Sevens carnival at Wentworth Falls on November 24.
The third instalment of the increasingly popular tournament — which brings together teams from across western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and beyond — saw a handful of surprise blowouts early in the day, before some last gasp heroics ensured this year’s event won’t soon be forgotten.
There was no more exciting a finish than in the cup final of the men’s competition, which became a battle of the Mountain Goats, one from Milthorpe and the other from Blue Mountains Rugby Club.
Each had advanced through their semi-finals in convincing fashion, setting the stage for an electric final as the slate of 59 matches across the day drew to a close.
With footwork that would have made Michael Flatley blush, Blue Mountains secured a lead late in the second half of the 14-minute contest, and it looked as though they had snatched an unlikely victory.
Milthorpe had other ideas, and with their last roll of the dice, and in added time, star halfback and player of the match Jayden Wright made a break down the western wing, with few options inside him. “I thought about kicking in-field and chasing to be honest,” said Wright, “but luckily there was support there and we just kept it going.”
The final passage of play conjured memories of Mark Coyne’s “Try from Hell” in the 1994 State of Origin series. The crowd watched on in awe as the ball passed through several sets of hands before a significant overlap opened up. When captain Daniel Donato took possession at short range, it was all over for Blue Mountains. Donato’s brother James capped an outstanding day by winning player of the tournament.
Just minutes earlier, the Seven10s continued their dominance at the tournament, with the local women wrapping up another title after a shellacking of a strong CSU Reddies outfit.
The students from Wagga Wagga were no match for a well-drilled Seven10s, largely formed of players from a touch football background, but also boasting state rugby sevens talent. Claudia McLaren was outstanding, picking up player of the match.
The disappointing result for CSU, led by captain Brittney Bedford and player of the tournament Biola Dawa was a false reflection of their performance throughout, but rather the fatigue that had set in throughout the day, especially as temperatures rose from the chilly morning conditions.
Tournament director Chris Nay said this year’s event showed how far the carnival had come since its infancy.
“The quality of the matches across the day and the conduct of the players and officials involved was of the highest standard, and that’s something we’ve come to expect from this great tournament,” he said.
“The Active Axons Blue Mountains and Greater West Rugby Sevens carnival has really become one of the premier events on what is an expanding list of high-quality sevens tournaments around New South Wales. We’re already planning for how we can make next year’s carnival bigger and better.”
You can catch up on all the action on the carnival’s Facebook page.