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Lions victorious in all-GB 7s clash in the capital

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Several Aviva Premiership Rugby stars continued to press their case for Olympic selection as the GB Lions were crowned champions at ‘7evens and the City’ on Saturday night, beating the GB Royals 27-14 in the final.

The home of Aviva Premiership champions Saracens, Allianz Park, was the venue for the 7s tournament that was headlined by two GB 7s teams that included the likes of Richard de Carpentier, Marcus Watson and Ollie Lindsay-Hague.

With the sides still stepping up their preparations ahead of the return of rugby at the Olympic Games, both won all four of their pool matches before beating Samurai and France in the semi-finals to set up an all-GB final.

With five games in one day, ‘7evens and the City’ provided a punishing schedule for both teams, but one that will have put the players to the ultimate test with just over two weeks until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games squad is announced.

Head coach Simon Amor said: "It has been an amazing day with some outstanding individual and team performances.

"In the last game, with the Lions and the Royals going toe to toe, the competitive edge and the quality of the rugby was of the highest level and I'm absolutely delighted.

"Both teams were pushing for the win, you could see how much the outcome meant to them.

"Individuals clearly wanted to perform well but it was the team win that they desperately wanted and that was clear in the way the Lions celebrated their victory at the end.

"It was brilliant, it shows how close all the guys have become in a short space of time and that, combined with brilliant individual displays, is what you want as a coach." 

The GB Lions took the lead in the opening minute, when Mark Robertson scored an impressive try from broken play, followed by a simple conversion from skipper Luke Treharne.

The Royals were quick to respond as Dan Bibby scored a sublime solitary try, and with Tom Mitchell adding the conversion, brought the match level once more.

James Rodwell wrestled the ball over the line from a few metres out to give the Lions the advantage again, before Robertson scored his second of the game to take the score to 17-7.

Sam Cross brought the Royals back into contention with a second-half try, which, with another Mitchell conversion, took his side to within three points of the Lions.

But with only two minutes left on the clock, the Lions pulled further ahead through Lee Jones who touched down in the corner, before Gavin Lowe wrapped up victory with a try in the final play of the game.

It was not all good news for the GB 7s machine, however, as it was confirmed over the weekend that Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson is out of Olympics contention after dislocating his elbow in training.

The 27-year-old will now return to Wasps for pre-season, and is expected to be fit for the start of the campaign.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “We are all really gutted for Joe that injury has put a stop to his chances of representing Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

“The feedback we have had from Simon Amor and the rest of the GB set-up was that Joe was progressing well and pushing hard for a place in the squad, and it's desperately unfortunate that he has picked up an injury that will now rule him out.

“On the flip side of that, we're all looking forward to having Joe return to Wasps.

“He is an influential character in this squad and he'll now be getting his head down to prepare himself for the start of the new season.”

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets

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BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Maro Itoje of  Saracens is tackled by Max Lahiff of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on December 3, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)