Chiefs miss out in last four
By Mark Stevens
A last-gasp try from Christian Wade denied Exeter Chiefs the chance of sealing a place in this year’s Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Cup final at Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens.
In a nip-and-tuck semi-final encounter against Wasps, it was the England international that landed the hammer blow to Ricky Pellow’s side.
Until that point, the Chiefs - who were 26-14 winners over Saracens in the quarter-finals - had looked mightily impressive and were on course to knock out last season’s champions.
Summer signing Tom O’Flaherty got the Devon club off to the perfect start with an early score, but Wasps replied with a converted Josh Bassett score.
Max Bodilly restored the Chiefs advantage before the break, but a converted Bassett try put Wasps back ahead almost immediately following the resumption of play.
The pendulum continued to swing back as O’Flaherty and Wade exchanged tries and with the clock gone dead Wasps just held on for a 21-17 victory to book their final spot.
In the final itself, Wasps lifted the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Cup for the second straight year with a 26-12 victory over 2011 champions Newcastle Falcons.
Dan Robson put Wasps in front only for Adam Radwan, with his seventh try of the tournament, and Cameron Cowell to put the Falcons ahead against the reigning champions.
Wade restored Wasps lead before half-time and player of the tournament Bassett went over for his seventh try of the campaign shortly after the break. Craig Hampson made sure of the result with Wasps’ fourth try of the final with Gabiriele Lovobalavu adding further gloss to the reigning champions in the final moments.
Harlequins met Newcastle in the other semi-final after the former saw off Gloucester in the quarters and the Falcons seeing off Worcester Warriors.
Nathan Thomas put Harlequins ahead in the semi-final but tries from Simon Uzokwe, Ben Stevenson and Cowell, against the team he played for in last year’s competition, put Falcons in control.
Uzokwe added a second try after the break to extend the lead to 24-7 before Calum Waters and Niall Saunders brought Harlequins right back into the game at 24-19.
Ibitoye managed to force extra-time with a try in the final seconds after Harlequins missed the conversion that would have sent them through. And it proved to be costly as Stevenson broke away down the right hand side to get the first point of extra-time and send the Falcons through to the Cup final.
Wasps 27-10 Sale
Worcester 24-28 Newcastle
Gloucester 24-26 Harlequins
Exeter Chiefs 26-14 Saracens
Wasps 21-17 Exeter Chiefs
Harlequins 29-24 Newcastle Falcons (AET)
Wasps 31-12 Newcastle Falcons