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18 July 2016

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The Spitfires journeyed to Exeter to resume their hunt for 7s silverware, after defeat in a final at their last attempt.

In their first game, against the Plymouth Fijians, the Spitfires dominated with a seven-try blitz on their way to a 45-0 victory. Tries were scored by SACs Sam Hutchinson and Juite Tupua, debutante Sgt Lee Queeley, Cpl Jack Lowe, Cpl Steve Parker, and a pair for SAC Iwan Davies.

Against the Ponty Butchers it was a hard fought first half, finishing 7-0 to the Butchers, but a couple of defensive lapses saw the Butchers race to a 21-0 lead early in the second. In typical fashion the Spitfires rallied and finished the stronger but Tupua's score was only a late consolation try.

In the third, ORFC stole the early momentum after a poor start by the Spitfires and found the going all to easy against the flagging RAF side.

In a fourth and final pool game the Spitfires' bad run continued, turning round at halftime 14-0 down against the Star 7s. Things improved thereafter but despite threatening a late winner they went down 19-14.

With a second day of competition to restore pride and grab a trophy the RAF side relished their semi final draw against Army opposition, the RLC, in the 'Champagne Cup' (Plate). Putting the previous day's disappointment behind them the Spitfires coasted to a 47-0 victory through scores by Cpl James Challenger (2), Flt Lts Tchad Collins-Francois and Tom Rock, Hutchinson, Queeley and Davies.The win earned the Spitfires a final against Billy Twelvelads, conquerors of the Royal Marine Marauders in their semi.

The Spits got off to a flyer, Collins crossing just two minutes in. Only heroic defence denied the Twelvelads an immediate equaliser and Sgt Andy Byrne initiated a surge back downfield. With several players helping to exhaust the retreating defenders along the way, it was eventually Byrne that finished the counter-attack for a pivotal score.

Missing a chance to kill things off the RAF men conceded a Twelvelads try just before the break but, early in the second, Collins' pace and power was followed up by Rock who raced in to make it 19-5. A missed tackle allowed the Twelvelads to claw another back but Rock and Parker combined to beat the defence and put Hutchinson in enough space to battle over in the corner.

With one hand already on the Champagne Cup, Challenger used the final play to combine with SAC Sam Breeze and seal the win 31-12. The first silverware of the season represented atonement for the poor showing on the first day, and will give the Spitfires some confidence to take across the pond to a ferocious tournament in Denver next month.

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