SX10 overturned a 14-0 deficit to beat Ohio Aviators in the final of the WTS Cup at the National Sports Complex in Hamilton, Bermuda.
A brace of tries from the Cup’s top points scorer Collins Injera and the winning try from South African, Craig Hunt, was enough to ensure the win for Frankie Horne’s side.
The Aviators sprung into an early lead thanks to scores from Riekert Hattingh and Brad Tucker to put themselves in the ascendancy, but the never say die attitude of the SX10 squad, a team that spent the opening round of the World Tens series League in self isolation following a positive COVID-19 result, was enough to get them over the line and see them lift the WTS Cup.
WTS Cup MVP: Kyle Baillie
Top Points scorer: Collins Injera
Ohio Aviators were relentless in the opening game of the day, crossing for four tries to defeat Miami Sun 26-5. This was the Aviators first victory against Miami in the World Tens Series and they produced this performance at the perfect time.
US Eagle Dylan Fawsitt went over for the first try of the match before Tristan Blewitt added a second score three minutes into added time at the end of the first half. Pat O’Toole raced down the righthand edge for Ohio’s third try early in the second half before Blewitt went over for his second and the Aviators fourth try.
Marcus Satuva did claw one score back for Miami, but it was in consolation as the Aviators won through to the semi finals.
The closest quarter final of the three came in the second match of the day, Rhinos were up against Phoenix, and from minute one the Phoenix were up for the challenge.
Denis Coulson bundled his way over for a try just before half time to give Phoenix a well-deserved lead. Head Coach Braam van Straaten, included in the match day squad as a specialist goal kicker, entered the fray to knock over a two-point jeopardy conversion.
The Rhinos came out fired up for the second half and instantly upped their level. They dominated territory and possession in the second half and were rewarded with an Eric Naposki try. Carl Meyer kicked the two-point conversion to level the scores with a minute left on the clock.
With time up, Rhinos were penalised for being offside and 49-year-old van Straaten stepped up to land the penalty goal and win the game to the jubilation of the Phoenix squad.
SX10 were up against the Asia Pacific Dragons in quarter final three and produced a classy performance to prevail 19-0. Cecil Afrika crossed for a brace of tries and Collins Injera crossed for a first half score. The win set up a semi final contest against Phoenix.
The London Royals met Ohio in the first semi final, coming off a quarter final bye as reward for winning the World Tens Series League. The Aviators caught London cold and went ahead after only three minutes, Kyle Baillie powering his way over the line, carrying two Royals defenders with him.
The Canadian second row added to his tally and that of the team with another try on the stroke of half time. The Aviators power and physicality proving too much for the Royals to handle as they extended their lead. Ben Cima kicked the two-point conversion to make it 12-0 to Ohio at the break.
The Royals were much improved in the second half, Dan Norton finishing off a nice team move and, with Tom Emery’s two-point conversion, trailed by only five points with two minutes remaining. The Aviators however put in a huge defensive effort and held out to reach the inaugural WTS Cup final.
SX10 and Phoenix collided in the second semi-final with several South African’s on show in both camps. It was South African Craig Hunt who scooted in for the first score, sprinting away from the covering Phoenix defence to open the SX10 account. JT Jackson added a two-point conversion to make it 7-0 at half time.
The second half was closely fought with Phoenix putting in a spirited performance. After a long period of possession, the ball was turned over and Kenyan 7s star Oscar Ouma scored the match winning score two minutes from time.
The Aviators started the WTS Cup final in the same fashion as they had played all day. Their brute strength again coming to the fore. Riekert Hattingh went over for the first try off a brilliant set piece move, before Brad Tucker extended that lead. Two Ben Cima two-point conversions saw the Aviators 14 points ahead.
From then on, it was all about SX10. Collins Injera, the top points scorer for the WTS Cup, pulled a try back before half time and a JT Jackson two-point conversion reduced the arrears to seven points at the break.
The Kenyan flier had his second score on the 15-minute mark and then a brilliant break from Willy Ambaka gave the Cape Town based franchise great field position. From the resulting phase of play Graig Hunt broke the line for what was to be the winning score. JT Jackson had an unblemished record off the tee to make the final score 21-14 to SX10.
Quarter final 1
Ohio Aviators: 26
Tries: Fawsitt (2), Blewitt (10, 17), O’Toole (14); Conversions: (Cima 2 pointer, 2 pointer, 2 pointer)
Miami Sun: 5
Tries: Satuva (15)
Quarter final 2
Tries: Naposki (18); Conversions: Meyer (2 pointer)
Tries: Coulson (9); Conversions: van Straaten (2 pointer); Penalties: van Straaten (2 pointer)
Quarter final 3
Asia Pacific Dragons: 0
Tries: Afrika (7, 15), Injera (9); Conversions: Jackson (2 pointer, 2 pointer)
Semi final 1
Ohio Aviators: 12
Tries: Baillie (3, 9); Conversions: Cima (2 pointer)
London Royals: 7
Tries: Norton (18); Conversions: Emery (2 pointer)
Semi final 2
Tries: Hunt (8), Ouma (18); Conversions: Jackson (2 pointer)
Ohio Aviators: 14
Tries: Hattingh (4), Tucker (8); Conversions: Cima (2 pointer, 2 pointer)
Tries: Injera (10, 15), Hunt (17); Conversions: Jackson (2 pointer, 2 pointer, 2 pointer)
(World 10s series material)