Armitage trio help London Irish win Middlesex SevensBy Alan Manicom
August 15, 2009
The Armitage brothers created history as London Irish won the Middlesex Sevens for the first time.
England stars Delon and Steffon and 17-year-old Wellington College pupil Guy became the first three brothers to appear in the same side in the competition when they took to the pitch at Twickenham today.
And Irish coach Toby Booth joked: “There's a fourth brother, while Delon has some offspring too so we could become London Armitage by the end of it.”
Irish swept aside invitational side Samurai International 26-19 in the final.
Delon collected his own chip through to touch down under the posts for the first try.
Promising young flyer Marcus Watson then ran the ball in from the halfway line before the hard-working Paul Hodgson finished off Irish’s third try from a great break by Peter Richards.
It was all over early in the second half when Samoan powerhouse Sailosi Tagicakibau powered his way through two tackles to leave the Samurai defence in tatters and Irish 26-0 ahead.
Tagicakibau was sinbinned moments later for a high tackle on Aussie Willie Bishop, reducing Irish to six players.
And Samurai capitalised on their numerical advantage with late consolation tries by Collins Injera, Bishop and Peceli Nacamavuto.
But Irish showed strength and commitment to hold on and clinch the club’s first trophy since 2001.
The Exiles bucked the trend of most of the Guinness Premiership clubs by picking a strong line-up for the pre-season charity tournament.
Head coach Booth had given the rest of his squad a run-out in the previous evening’s pre-season friendly against London Welsh, a match which the Exiles’ England stars were unavailable for because of their involvement in the international training camp during the week,
Booth said: “Our hand was forced by EPS week and I wanted to give as many players as much action as possible.
“Sevens is an integral part of skills development. We have talented players and we like to play an expansive game.”
Irish began with a 22-12 win over Gloucester in the first round.
Watson got them on their way after good work by Tagicakibau, who then made it 10-0 at half-time after breaking a tackle and showing a terrific turn of pace.
Delon Armitage burst through the middle to increase the lead to 15-0 before Danny Pointon opened Gloucester’s account.
Tagicakibau chipped through for Hodgson to score and convert under the posts for 20-7, Simpson Daniel grabbing a late consolation for Gloucester.
Irish came from behind to win 17-12 in the second round against a highly fancied Army team, who had opened the scoring with a try by Maika Burenvalu.
Steffon Armitage sprinted in to reply before a Tagicakibau break and pass on the line allowed Hodgson to touch down under the posts. Nick Kennedy then scored in the corner to make it 17-7 to Irish.
Apo Satala combined with Gus Qasevakatini for a late try by the Army but it was all in vain.
After Irish had clinched their place in the semi-finals, Delon Armitage said: "We put quite a strong team in this tournament. The family are all in the crowd and I am just grateful to get out there and play with my two brothers and its keeping me in good fitness for England."
"Steffon is trying to get into England while Guy is only 17 and still at school doing really well."
It was Steffon that set the Exiles on the way to a 17-12 semi-final win over Saracens.
He and Hodgson scored early on and while Jamie Hearn reduced the deficit to 12-5 before half-time, Irish made certain when Richards took a quick tap from close in to score.
Saracens’ late try by James Short was no more than a consolation.
And Irish took their place in a final that they never looked like losing.
Afterwards delighted Exiles captain Hodgson said: “We said at the beginning of the day how great it would be to get some silverware and look what’s happened.
"People like Delon and Steffon could have turned up and seen it as a bit of fun, but the club has come so far in the last few years.
“Four matches of sevens ¬ there is no better way of getting match fitness than that and it is a great decision from Toby Booth to put our boys forward.
“We have come through injury free and we were outstanding. I am so proud of the boys, they should be really chuffed with themselves."