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Singha 7s Finals preview

After a record-breaking group stage, some of the finest 7s players in England and Wales converge on the Ricoh Arena to fight for the right to call themselves Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Champion.

With a record 169 tries scored in four rounds of group action, expect an afternoon of lightning footwork, spectacular tries and crunching tackles.
 
Wasps

Christian Wade returns for Wasps, with the hosts naming an explosive squad as they look to clinch a maiden Singha 7s crown on home turf.

Last year’s Singha 7s captain Guy Thompson also returns, while World 7s Series winner Frank Halai remains in the squad alongside former Scotland centre Nick De Luca. 

Wade saw his Singha 7s try-scoring record broken by Sale Sharks’ Paolo Odogwu in Group D last weekend and his inclusion is a serious statement of intent, with captain Josh Bassett eyeing glory.

"With the carnival theme it should be a big party and we can start the season how we want to,” he said.

"It's always good to get on the pitch and wearing the Wasps' jersey is what it's all about – after a hard block of pre-season we all want to get out and play some rugby. We've targeted the Singha 7s to hit the ground running."

Harlequins

No team scored more group-stage points than Harlequins. With 16 tries, Quins lead the way alongside Sale Sharks and their squad is shot through with firepower that will trouble Wasps.

England age-grade star Marcus Smith is brought into the squad alongside newly-appointed England Under-18 captain Gabriel Ibitoye, while they are bolstered by England 7s players Cam Cowell and Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas.

Top try-scorer from Group C James Lang returns for Quins, while Jonas Mikalcius – who scored three tries of his own at Franklin’s Gardens – is also included.

Cardiff Blues

The Blues can once again call upon significant international experience, with Adam Thomas, Owen Jenkins, Ben Roach and Ethan Davies all included in their 12-man squad.

They scored a group-leading 11 tries on their way to three wins from three at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in Group A, while Morgan Sieniawski, Johnny Lewis and Aron Wyn Evans all come in. 

Wales 7s star Thomas skippers the side and is confident they can follow in Newport Gwent Dragons’ footsteps by clinching the crown.

“It would be great to go in and emulate the Dragons by winning the tournament and I know it sounds like a cliché, but we just need to take that game by game,” he said.

Sale Sharks

Group D Singha 7s Man of the Round Paolo Odogwu scored a record-breaking eight tries at Kingston Park, helping Sale Sharks to a round-high 16 tries as well as an emphatic 55-7 win over Leicester Tigers. 

Playmaker James Mitchell leads the side which racked up 98 points last time out, while England U20 World Champion George Nott also features as they prepare to take on Welsh challengers Cardiff Blues at the Ricoh.

Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs impressed at Sandy Park, claiming arguably the win of the tournament so far when holding off Wasps to win 26-19.

Singha 7s Man of the Round Sam Simmonds scored twice in that exhilarating win and was joined on the top try-scorer list for that day by the highly-rated Max Bodilly and Nick Mason.

Ricky Pellow has named an unchanged side for their trip to the Ricoh, with last year’s plate winners looking to put their best foot forward against Northampton Saints.

"We were delighted with how the boys went in the group stages," he said. "We've never won all three games before, so to do that shows the strides we have made in the past year.

“It was particularly pleasing that we were able to do it at Sandy Park, but now we have to raise our game again for this weekend.”

Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints sealed their quarter-final spot in thrilling fashion, downing two-time champions Gloucester Rugby in a straight shoot-out in front of 10,022 fans at Franklin’s Gardens.

They head to Coventry with numerous changes to the squad. Exciting full-back George Furbank leads the side, Tom Emery returns from the side who shone in Northampton, with Joe Green and Will Edwards coming in. 

Newcastle Falcons

Group D winners Newcastle Falcons are the only previous Singha 7s winners still in the competition and coach Mark Laycock has made just one change to the side that triumphed at Kingston Park.

Dan Temm returns to captain the side, with Scotland under-20 lock Andrew Davidson coming in for Ruaridh Dawson the only change.

And playmaker Tom Catterick says Falcons’ prior Singha 7s successes count for nothing at the Ricoh. 

“We will definitely have to improve if we want to win the finals. It was partly our experience that got us through, and partly the fact that we just never gave up,” said Catterick. 

“We are known as a team who keep going for each other, we never stop playing and we have an intensity which can win us tight games.”

Ospreys

Experience will be key for the Ospreys as Steff Andrews captains the side in his third year of Singha 7s action, with Wales 7s internationals Morgan Williams and Chris Knight also featuring.

There are six changes in all to the squad, but Joe Gage – who shone in Cardiff – continues alongside Joseph Scrivens and Tom O’Flaherty, with Welsh age-grade star Matthew Aubrey hoping to help the Ospreys capitalise on a first Singha 7s Finals appearance.

Eight teams will play for the first silverware of the season in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals from 2pm at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Sunday 7 August. For tickets visit wasps.co.uk/tickets

 

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