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London Wasps claimed the 2006 Middlesex Sevens title at Twickenham on Saturday, beating a much fancied Leicester Tigers side in the final to go one better than last year and win the Russell Cargill trophy for the fifth time in the club's history.
The team, boasting a healthy mix of youth and experience, was led by England Sevens Captain Simon Amor, whilst Josh Lewsey topped the tournament try scoring table with a record 11 touchdowns on the day.
Supporters at Twickenham also got what would be for many a first glimpse of Danny Cipriani, Wasps 18 year old fly half, who impressed on the day with his range of skills and eye for a gap. The youngster's talent saw him top and tail Wasps scoring on the day, opening his side's account in the very first pool game and rounding off the day with the winning try against Leicester in the final.
Wasps came through the pool stages with comfortable wins over Bristol and Newcastle Falcons. An easy win over Saracens in the quarter finals set up a semi final against a dangerous looking young Harlequins outfit.Quins raced to an 12-0 lead thanks to two scores from David Strettle, but Wasps responded with tries from Cipriani and two from Lewsey to reach half time 21-12 ahead, and were able to keep their noses ahead in the second half to qualify for the final with a 26-19 win.
Leicester were a different proposition to the young Quins however. With the pace of Tom Varndell an obvious danger, Tigers also had muscle in the shape of Henry Tuilagi and Seru Rabeni and some youthful talent of their own, Tom Croft having caught the eye in Tigers earlier games.
Having had the quickest turnarounds between quarter final, semi final and final, there was a suggestion that Wasps might also be looking a little weary. But this was a big chance for the likes of Cipriani, Chris Bishay and James Honeyben and they gave it their all.
Lewsey and Cipriani took Wasps into a 12-0 lead, and though Leicester pulled back with a Varndell try, Lewsey scored another on the stroke of half time to put Wasps 19-5 ahead at the break.
Chris Bishay stretched Wasps lead early in the second half but Leicester continued to fight, despite being a man down after Ian Humphreys was shown a yellow card. They came back with a try for replacement Matt Smith, but Wasps had the silverware in their sights, and Cipriani rounded off the scoring in the last minute, Wasps claiming the Sevens with a 29-10 win.
Lewsey was delighted with the win, saying, 'I've thoroughly enjoyed the day, and I'm delighted for our young players. They were under pressure out there today and they absolutely delivered. For some of those boys it was the first time they had been to Twickenham, let alone played here, and it's great for them.''Last season was disappointing for me, but I'm feeling fresh after my first real summer off in seven years. I asked to play today, as sevens is a great chance to really express yourself on a rugby field, and I loved it - although it was a hard old slog! To start the season by winning a final, especially against Leicester was great for all of us, but especially for the young lads.'
1 Simon Amor - Capt
2 Danny Cipriani
3 Josh Lewsey
4 James Honeyben
5 Edd Thrower
6 Chris Bishay
7 Garth Chamberlain
8 Dominic Waldouck
9 Mark McMillan
10 James Haskell
11 Hugo Ellis
12 Rob Webber
1st ROUND - LEAGUE 4
LONDON WASPS 22, BRISTOL RUGBY 5
London Wasps: Tries - Lewsey (2), Cipriani, Waldouck. Conv - Cipriani.
Bristol Rugby: Try - Stanojevic.
LONDON WASPS 17, NEWCASTLE FALCONS 10
London Wasps: Tries - Lewsey (2), Cipriani. Conv - Cipriani.
Newcastle Falcons: Tries - Phillips, Dowson.
Yellow card: Elliott (Newcastle).
NEWCASTLE FALCONS 26, BRISTOL RUGBY 17
Newcastle Falcons: Tries - McCarthy (2), Elliott, Visser. Conv - Flood (3).
Bristol Rugby: Tries - Lemi (3). Conv - Lemi.
Pos Team Pl W D L T C D P F A Pts
1 London Wasps 2 2 0 0 7 2 0 0 39 15 6
2 Newcastle Falcons 2 1 0 1 6 3 0 0 36 34 4
3 Bristol Rugby 2 0 0 2 4 1 0 0 22 48 2
LONDON WASPS 31, SARACENS 14
London Wasps: Tries - Lewsey (3), Haskell (2). Conv - Cipriani (3).
Saracens: Tries - Goode, Penney. Conv - Goode (2).
LONDON WASPS 26, NEC HARLEQUINS 19
London Wasps: Tries - Lewsey (2), Cipriani, Bishay. Conv - Cipriani (2), Amor.
NEC Harlequins: Tries - Strettle (2), Skinner. Conv - Williams, Moore.
LONDON WASPS 29, LEICESTER TIGERS 10
London Wasps: Simon Amor (capt), Danny Cipriani, Josh Lewsey, James Honeyben, Chris Bishay, James Haskell, Rob Webber.
Reps: Edd Thrower, Garth Chamberlain, Dominic Waldouck, Mark McMillan, Hugo Ellis.
Scorers: Tries - Lewsey (2), Cipriani (2), Bishay. Conv - Amor (2).
Leicester Tigers: Tom Croft, Seru Rabeni, Henry Tuilagi, Scott Bemand (capt), Tom Varndell, Ian Humphreys, Harry Ellis.
Reps: Brett Deacon, Gavin Hickie, Sam Vesty, Matt Smith, Frank Murphy.
Scorers: Tries - Varndell, Smith.
Referee: Sean Davey.
Yellow card: Humphreys (Leicester).