The University of Queensland has fulfilled expectations by remaining undefeated to the end, taking the final tournament title and the overall 2017 Aon Uni 7s Series.
Challenged by Macquarie University right to the final siren in the gold medal match, the winning experience of UQ paid off with a two-point lead gained late in the game getting them home and
sealing a 12-10 victory.
The disappointment for the Rays was palpable having surged through the Gold Coast tournament with a clinical determination to get a victory and to deny UQ their "undefeated" status.
Strong performances from Chloe Dalton, Katie Harrison and Emily Chancellor gave the Rays hope right to the end but UQ’s composure under pressure was the difference.
Aussie coach Tim Walsh, while believing the Sydneysiders had done everything to win,acknowledged the importance of pressure.
“Macquarie was the in-form team but they cracked under pressure – they made some errors (in the final) that they hadn’t made all weekend,” he said.
In the Bronze medal match, hopes of a fairytale finish for the Uni of Tasmania squad were dashed as the ‘first try’ rule kicked in when the scoreboard showed a 12-12 draw at the final hooter, giving hosts Bond University the win.
A medal finish was not to be but a fourth place finish was still celebrated as the best result yet.
Over four tournaments UTAS has finished eighth twice and fifth in Round Three, so capping off the Series with a top four placing has underlined the strong development being implemented down south and is a credit to former Wallaby and coach Luke Burgess.
For Bond University, the Bronze medal playoff match was a must-win game as a loss opened the door for Macquarie to pass them and steal second place in the overall Series rankings.
As it stands, UQ won the Series with Bond second just ahead of Macquarie.
For the rest of the teams on Day Two, Griffith saved some pride by demolishing Adelaide 36-7 in the battle for fifth place while UNE took seventh place over Uni of Canberra in a closer fought contest, winning 24-15.
Canberra was perhaps the surprise performer this weekend finishing eighth, not able to revisit the giant-killing form of the last round which saw it grab a top four position in the Brisbane tournament.
Ahead of this weekend’s final round on the Gold Coast, the bigger discussion point out of the Uni 7s series had not been not the dominance of UQ but more importantly perhaps, the development of the players involved in the less experienced squads and achieving many of the objectives set out by the organisers and stakeholders in this initiative.
With the strong support of the National Women’s Sevens squad, players and staff, the competition has showcased several key elements of the initiative.
The leadership both on and off the field of the Aussie Sevens players spread among the eight teams has proved invaluable while the addition of some experience from overseas has undoubtedly added an extra spark.
But the key feature has been the emergence of an array of domestic talent, the depth of which has been unexpected.
While the purpose of this venture was to do exactly that, the experts watching from the sidelines had been impressed by just how much talent is out there and how quickly that raw talent shaped up under the mentorship of those who know the ropes of competitive, tournament standard Sevens rugby at an elite level.
On this basis, a special announcement was made at the conclusion of the medal presentations.
Tim Walsh and Scott Bowen had announced during the Gold Coast tournament that the standard had been so high through the series that a decision had been taken to select a ‘Dream Team’.
Bowen explained that the team would have no Australian representatives, nor international players, but consist of local talent who had impressed across the four tournaments.
The team is: Mackenzie Sadler (Uni of Queensland), Katie Harrison (Rays) , Alysia Lefau Fakaosilea (Griffith Uni) , Grace Kaihau (Uni of Queensland), Lily Dick (Uni of Queensland) , Lauren Brown (Griffith Uni) and Nita Maynard (Rays).
Player of the Series was named as Emilee Cherry who humbly accepted her award from Walsh and while she is one of the Australian marquee players there is no doubt she set the bar very high for the tournament and was instrumental in UQs ultimate domination.
1. Uni of Queensland, 80 points
2. Bond Uni, 68 points
3. Macquarie Uni, 66 points
4. Griffith Uni, 50 points
5. Uni of Canberra, 40 points
6. Uni of Adelaide, 40 points
7. Uni of Tasmania, 38 points
8. Uni of New England, 34 points