Appleby praises players for commitment in Gloucester-Hartpury Women Sevens’ triumph
Gloucester-Hartpury Women were victorious in the Secure Trading 24/Sevens Series finals at Bath on Saturday, edging out Wasps in an exciting final which could have gone either way.
Tries from Shauna Bennett and Ellie Kildunne sealed a 14-10 victory in the final to lift the trophy and a delighted Head Coach Susie Appleby was quick to laud the skill and application of her squad.
“It was the inaugural Prem Sevens and we don’t have a bespoke Sevens programme even though we have some players who are incredible at Sevens, they’re great athletes.
“But this was all about just going there in the middle of preseason, just expressing ourselves and seeing where we got to. It was a good day out really!
“We knew that Wasps and Sarries had played a lot of Sevens this summer, but we were confident about the quality of our players. But with Sevens, it’s not always about the talent of the players on the pitch, it’s how they work together.
“We played a couple of really good games on the day, especially against Bristol, and then in the final against Wasps where it really did start to come together.
“Five games on one day is quite an ask for players, physically and mentally, as is the cohesion. So, to get it right in the fourth and fifth game on the day, having not had a lot of time together, was really pleasing.”
The final was a ding-dong affair, Wasps scoring twice against the run of play to take the lead. Gloucester-Hartpury had to defend for long periods and it took a phenomenal chase back and tackle from Hannah Jones to keep the line intact at one point, an effort not lost upon Appleby.
“Hannah was incredible on Saturday, she played virtually every minute of every game. She’s an incredible international athlete who has played a lot of Sevens. Having her in the squad was important, as well as Sian Williams who has been captaining Wales Sevens and Beth Lewis.
“Then combining those players with the likes of Ellie Kildunne who has a massive Sevens future ahead of her, Abi Burton and young Shauna Bennett.
“Shauna, who went with the U18s to France recently, was unbelievable on Saturday on what was an incredibly exciting day. These occasions, as with the men’s Sevens, are an opportunity for any young player to show coaches what they’ve got.
“The season started there and then and I was so impressed with the performances that Shauna put in. It was fantastic to see and what a confidence boost for her heading into the new season.
“Shauna doesn’t say much, she just does. But when you express yourself on the field of play by just doing, others follow. And I think she’ll find herself leading pretty soon, as a very young player.”