UTAS grab a seat at big table as UQ continue on way

Uni 7s
by Jill Scanlon

There were three notable outcomes from the first day of the fourth and final tournament of the Aon Uni 7s series on the Gold Coast on Friday.

As expected, Uni of Queensland could not be bettered in the pool round and has remained undefeated in this competition.

The ‘Heavies’ will again cruise through to the semi-finals in a quest to win their fourth tournament title and the overall series title.

The popular story of the day however, was the progression of Uni of Tasmania through to the semi-finals after finishing in the top four for the first time in the competition.

The steady progress and improvement through the four tournaments has been due in no small part to the inclusion of Aussie veteran Nicole Beck, who joined the squad in the second round.

She has added an X-factor to the young squad in leadership and experience reinforcing their development under coach Luke Burgess, who was thrilled with what he was seeing from his charges.

“It was a good effort from the girls - they’re really gelling,” Luke Burgess said.

“I’m really proud of my team’s development across the whole series and to make the top four in the Final round is a credit to how hard the girls have worked.”

The biggest hurdle for the southerners however will be their semi-final clash against Macquarie University.

The quality of the three wins for the Rays on Day One was impressive and now has the pundits contemplating the possibility of a successful challenge to UQ in what could be a repeat of Brisbane a fortnight ago, in the battle for Gold.

Aussie Sevens High Performance manager Scott Bowen was full of praise in his assessment of the performances and of the competition so far.

“It’s really pleasing from an Australian Rugby point of view, the growth of a lot of these young players, who came in only six weeks ago in Launceston, to where they’ve got to today,” he said.

“We only have to look at the University of Tasmania who really struggled in their home tournament but have been able to secure second place in their pool and will play a semi-final.”

For Bond University, the day ended in disappointment when they could not dampen the determination in performance of Macquarie, losing their final game 31-12 to finish second in Pool B.

What the hosts now face is the mammoth task of taking on UQ in the semi-final tomorrow morning.

For those four teams which finished out of semi-final contention, feelings would have been mixed in the sheds at the end of the day.

Griffith University were inconsistent with a loss at the death against Bond to start the day, followed by a big loss to Macquarie and finally their only win, a 29-10 victory over Adelaide to close out Day One.

While Uni of New England benefitted with the return from injury of Aussie star Alicia Quirk, they just could not get the scores on the board finishing without a single win.

The giant killing form of the Uni of Canberra in the last round was elusive today as they failed to capitalise on a strong first-up win over UNE, going down to UTAS and UQ in their subsequent matches.

So can Bond improve enough to stop UQ in its tracks and will UTAS continue its winning form and halt the impressive first day run of Macquarie’s Rays?

The final day of the final tournament in this Uni 7s competition looks set to offer the best rugby yet and will underline the success of this inaugural Series.

Kick off on Sunday will be at 10.00am AEST with all the Aon Uni7s action LIVE and free on RUGBY.com.au and RUGBY.com.au/facebookLIVE