Griffith takes Gold at second AON Rugby 7s tournament

Gold Medallists Griffith University during the official Trophy Presentation, Day 2, Round 2 (Gold Coast) of 2019 AON University 7s. Bond University campus. Sunday 29th September 2019 © Karen Watson / Rugby AU Media

2018 series champions, Griffith has claimed victory in the second leg of the AON Rugby 7s series, beating tournament favourites Sydney University and University of Queensland (UQ) for the winner’s cup.

Griffith University Captain Laura Waldie accepts the Winners trophy during the official Presentation. Sunday 29th September 2019 © Karen Watson / Rugby AU Media

A multitude of injuries from the opening tournament a fortnight ago resulted in five changes to the team. It took some time for the new combinations to gel, with a shock first up loss to Bond University, but they regrouped to beat University of New England (UNE) (22-19) and UQ (14-7) on the opening day.

Day Two started with a draw against the University of Adelaide (17-17). The effort was just enough to make it through to the semi-final, where Griffith showed it’s determination in beating Sydney University (14-12).

Griffith’s Kahli Henwood with the ball during the Gold Medal Match UQ v GU. Sunday 29th September 2019 © Karen Watson / Rugby AU Media

Griffith then entered familiar territory, competing for the winner’s cup against local rivals UQ. After a 7-all deadlock at half time, two outstanding team tries in the second half sealed victory and their first medal for 2019.

Coach Moana Virtue praised the efforts of the team in what was described as a ‘roller coaster’ of a weekend.

“Regardless of who is named for tournaments I have faith in the depth of our squad, we have to be prepared to play every minute right from the start,” said Virtue.

“This tournament was tough, the girls had setbacks but what was pleasing is that they fought for everything.

“What I saw this weekend was team-work. We lacked being direct and aggressive at times, but we turned it on when we needed it most and the final game was our best game.”

Dr Jason Doyle, who is on the board of the Griffith 7s team, praised the team’s efforts.

“They dug deep and never gave up, despite being behind late in most of the games leading into the final,” he said.

University of Queensland, Griffith University and Sydney University at the trophy presentation. Photo: Steven Duhig.

“The whole team showed mental toughness, were able to hang in there under pressure and consistently turned up for one another”.

Tiana Raftstrand-Smith in the Gold Medal Match UQ v GU.
Sunday 29th September 2019 © Karen Watson / Rugby AU Media

Moana Virtue said the team now has two more weeks to work hard before the next tournament.

“We’ll celebrate the win for now but come Tuesday we’re back to work.”

The cup win means Griffith nabs second place on the series ladder, four points behind UQ.

The teams will meet in Adelaide in a fortnight for the third leg of the series on October 11 and 12.