May Bank Holiday is always been a busy time for the Carmarthen Warriors – the county’s all-conquering Sevens side – and 2014 proved no different.
The Elite squad headed to Bournemouth while their understudies, the Flamingoes, were keen to regain the Newport Pembs trophy again.
Putting a disappointing City of Manchester Sevens behind them, both had assembled strong squads and confidence was high.
This was dampened slightly however when the Warriors arrived in Bournemouth to discover they had been drawn in a ‘pool of death’ with both the Army and Apache.
After the first seven minutes the draw looked all the more ominous with the Carmarthenshire side trailing Apache by 12-0.
However, a superb second half comeback - led by Jason Howells, Tom James and Joe Knowles - saw the Warriors take their first pool game 19-12.
With confidence resumed, the Warriors shocked the Army in the next game with two unanswered tries either side of the break.
Knowles first pounced on a Tomi Jones kick ahead before Jonny Morgan crossed between the Army posts almost straight from the restart.
Anyone who watches Sevens regularly will know that the Army refuse to give in easily and typically, they leveled the score at 14-14 at the final whistle.
Despite this the Warriors were ebullient after running one of the UK’s foremost Sevens sides close yet again.
It also put them in pole position to top the group with only Glantaf Goats left to face in the final game.
A Jason Howells hat-trick and another from Morgan took them comfortably into Sunday’s knockout stages with a 27-15 victory
A sunny Sunday in Bournemouth saw the Warriors face Black Sheep in the quarterfinals.
Newcomers to Bournemouth The Black Sheep posed a hard physical test for the Warriors side, who found themselves 12-0 down early on.
The introduction of Tomi Jones proved key, as he first put in a clever cross kick for Morgan to collect and score and followed up with a superb break to release Tom James who cantered home to level the scores.
The second half saw the Sheep exert more physical pressure and pull away from the Warriors. A scuffle between the diminutive Jones and one of their forwards ended with both teams reduced to six men.
A consolation try by the ever-destructive Jason Howells wasn’t enough to close the gap and the Warriors crashed out in the quarter-finals for the second year running.
Despite the disappointment of defeat, the Warriors can look back on the weekend with some pride with the squad proving themselves more than a match for the best teams in the UK.
It should be noted that the Warriors only defeat came at the hands of the eventual Bournemouth champions who disposed of the Army in the final.
Hopefully this can converted into success next weekend when the Warriors contest the Elite competition at the Cardiff Sevens on Sunday.