Hirayama lifts Vikes to inaugural National Sevens title
Published Saturday, March 12, 2011 5:00 am
by Andy Watson, UVic Vikes Communications

After building a 22-0 lead at the half, the University of Victoria Vikes men's rugby team won the inaugural National Sevens Invitational Tournament at Thunderbird Stadium on March 12 with a 34-17 win over the Western Mustangs. UVic posted a perfect 6-0 record at the tournament.

"I'm really pleased," said Vikes men's rugby head coach Doug Tate. "In the UBC (semifinal) game and the final game, the intensity was good and overall it was a pretty good tournament. It wouldn't be an easy thing to win every year.

"Credit to Western they trained for this event in a gym," Tate said. "(Conor) Trainor who plays for national team - him and (Nathan) Hirayama and Sean Duke were the players of the tournament. Duke lit it up in the final, he took it to another level. He made some tackles, ran some guys down, scored. He did it all. And Phil Mack had been down with a hammy injury and this was his first action in a while. He was great too."

Playing 10-minute halves instead of the standard seven-minute stanzas in Sevens play, the Vikes opened up a lead they would never surrender on a long run by Sean Duke five minutes into the game to lead 5-0.

"I thought the guys persevered," Tate said. "A lot of credit to Western, they'd had a couple of injuries in the tournament and only had, I think, nine guys left, they kept coming and had a crazy bounces go against them, one on a kickoff when we scored going the other way. In the second half, they forced our guys to step it up."

Hirayama, named the Man of the Match with 12 points, made it 10-0 after a nifty deke to beat his man and then Duke scored his second try of the game off a nice pass from Mack set up a long Duke run for a score. Hirayama booted a convert to stretch the lead to 17-0  just nine minutes into the game.

Tony LaCarte made it 22-0 before the halftime break for UVic, as the Vikes enjoyed about 80 per cent of the possession in the opening frame.

In the second half, the Mustangs showed fight, putting on pressure . Great passing led to a try from national team player Conor Trainor to cut the lead to 22-5 for UVic.

Hirayama ran the length of the field on the ensuing kickoff to kill the Mustangs momentum to score another try to give UVic a 27-5 lead midway through the second half.

Sloppy tackling by the Vikes gave the Mustangs brief hope again as Western's Rory Tomlinson ran in a try to make it 27-10 UVic.

Western scored another try, with a convert, to cut the lead to 27-17 with two and a half minutes remaining, but blazing speed from Vikes player Will Parker down the left side allowed him to score to make it 34-17, eluding Mustangs defenders for the score with about a minute remaining.

National Rugby Sevens Invitational Tournament
(At Thunderbird Stadium, UBC, Vancouver, B.C.)
March 12
Quarter-Final: UVic 50 Alberta 0
Semifinal: UVic 26 UBC 14
Championship: UVic 34 Western 17
March 11
Round-Robin: Uvic 19 McMaster 0, UVic 29 UBC Okanagan 7, UVic 38 Calgary 0

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