March is proving to be a pretty big month for us. Our men & women competed bravely at the Las Vegas Invitational with both teams getting through to the final of the elite men’s & women’s competitions played on Sam Boyd Stadium. Both teams were reduced to 10 players for their finals.
On the Saturday (4th March 2017), the men fought back from 14-0 down to push the match into extra time & won with a golden point try concocted by Tom Kingston & Mick Adams. It was a high quality final played against a very good Serevi side, coached by the master himself. We were lucky enough to have Lewis Holland guiding our boys and he continues to prove himself amongst the best minds in the game.
We didn’t really know what the expect coming into the tournament, but social media commentary told us we were in a pool of death with favorites Serevi, last year’s finalists Froggies & a strong English side. The draw make up, with 5 pools, reinforced our uncertainty and confirmed the pool of death scenario, with only one team from each pool guaranteed to progress to the quarter-finals.
Our first half performances in the pool games stamped us as the team to beat but our second half performances didn’t back that up, until the final pool game against Serevi when the lads put together the complete 14-minute performance we’d been waiting for. Following a narrow win & a narrow loss, that comprehensive performance probably ambushed a relaxed Serevi side and saved our tournament.
There was never going to be an ambush in the final rematch with Serevi. They were up for it. The tournament was won on super performances by all players, but none more important than the contribution of Tom Connor who was a stand-out across all games, but in the final arguably the difference, winning crucial turnovers to swing momentum our way.
Our women were given a tough draw as well and on the Sunday (5th March 2017) were a struck match away from emulating the effort of our men. They were pooled with Canada2 and faced with a cross-pool match against USA2 in the quarter-finals.
As anticipated, they did meet USA in the quarter-finals and trailed 17-7 with 2 minutes to go. It was fitting that the come-from-behind win was orchestrated by a veteran Welsh international and a 16 year-old Aussie in the blending of experience and youth that we’ve tried to build our teams around since 2013. Philippa Tuttiett had made a big impact from the bench all tournament and with time up, made a break following a Liz Patu turn-over, before calmly passing back inside to Georgia Hannaway who scored under the posts to even it up. Georgia then, not so calmly, slot the winning conversion for a memorable victory.
The semi-final was equally dramatic. We’d lost our Welsh & Irish players for the final day with a scheduling change pushing the tournament into the Sunday. The Celts had already locked in return flights. The match against Scions finished at 21-21, before Darcie Morrison scored a long-range golden point try to send the girls into the final. It was a brave performance from the girls to recompose themselves having lost 4 of the strongest contributors from the preceding 4 games; the cold gale force winds added little comfort.
The final was a rematch against Canada2 who had beaten us 27-12 in the pool match. The girls would lose the final 17-7, but it was much closer than the score indicates. As deserving Canada were of the win, they needed a dubious penalty try call in their favour & an atrocious no knock-on call for their 3rd try to seal the game after our girls had battled back into it. At 12-7 down the Tribe7s girls had given themselves the chance to win it against the odds with the firepower offered by Demi Hayes, Dom Du Toit & Darcie Morrison playing off the back of a scheming Georgia Hannaway. It wasn’t to be, but they lost no friends playing their part in a high quality game for the big crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium.
If there had been a player of the tournament award given, Demi Hayes would have taken some beating for the gong. She won’t be too far away from winning her next World Series cap.
Under adversity coaches Lewis Holland & Cassidy Holland marshaled their troops beautifully and as usual our tireless tour manager, Felicity Bennetts, was the glue that held everything together. As can only be done in Las Vegas, Felicity celebrated a successful tournament by putting her female charges to bed late on Sunday night before treating herself to some well earned Flick time that continued through to around 2pm on Monday!
The season is not quite done. This weekend the men are in Sandakan, Borneo for the World’s Greenest 7s, quite a contrast to the Nevada Desert, but brimming with confidence, aiming for a second title in the month.
On a more somber note, we lost Sam Caslick to a severe cheekbone injury in the first pool game in Las Vegas, an injury the surgeon says is one of the worst he’s had to operate on. We wish Sam all the best for a speedy recovery.
Another Tribe7s player suffered a serious knee injury playing for the Aussie Pearls in Japan in February, forcing a knee reconstruction earlier this month. We wish Maddi Elliott the best of luck with her rehabilitation. Maddi will be charting her rehab on Instagram @roadtoaclrecovery for those interested in following her journey.
Here is an update from Maddi on her progress to date:
ACL injuries are so common, particularly in young female athletes. After seeing numerous friends and teammates go through this unfortunate experience, many of them multiple times, I thought I was one of the lucky ones who must have missed the boat being 26 and never having a major injury.
Unfortunately, on the 19/2/17 I tore my ACL, and underwent a reconstruction and meniscus repair on 8/3/17. It wasn’t until I sustained the injury that I realized I knew nothing about the slow process of rehab that would follow in the 9-12months ahead.
I have decided to document on Instagram the highs and lows of my road to ACL recovery so that when the going gets tough along the way I can look back at what I have achieved. It’s mainly for my own benefit but if anyone wants to follow my journey along the way my Instagram page is called @roadtoaclrecovery.
Day 8 – I didn’t realize how much energy my body must be using to try and heal! After my first day back at work I was knackered! Fell asleep on the lounge at 7:15!! Was also super achy last night so probably got a bit too keen yesterday. Have to remember not to push too hard too soon.
Due to my meniscus repair, I am unable to weight bear for longer than a pure ACL recon alone. My physio has instructed that while I will lose around 30% of my quad bulk on the injured leg initially, it is really important to keep strengthening the good leg as some of the strength effects can transfer to the injured leg. Pretty impressive what the body can do!! So I went along to the gym again today and modified the wod to mainly upper body and single leg movements. I was pleasantly surprised that my single leg rowing split was not that much worse than with two legs! There is no limit to what you can achieve, when there’s a will there’s a way.