Germany’s youngsters won the second tier European U18 championship tournament this weekend.
Seeding U18 sevens tournaments has a strong element of guesswork, especially when several of the teams have not played before, and this weekend’s tournament in Andorra was a model example.
Based on the opening day, there seemed to be two teams battling for the title – Germany and Scotland. Germany were comfortable winners of Pool A, with only Poland running them close, while Scotland overwhelmed their opponents in Pool B.
The battle for the other semi-final spots were far closer. In Pool A Poland not only came close to beating Germany, but also just missed out to Belgium in their opening game – a game that proved to be crucial to the final placings.
Pool B was even closer, with Ukraine and hosts Andorra drawing 12-12, and Andorra making the last four on points difference.
However, that opening day proved to be misleading when it came to the destination of the title as on day two teams from Pool A would win every match.
Poland and Ukraine won their plate (5th/8th place) semi-finals comfortably, and Germany similarly swept aside Andorra in the first cup semi-final. In the final semi-final, Scotland – so dominant topping Pool B – found Belgium a different proposition, barely touching the ball as Belgium dominated possession to take an early 12-0 lead. The difference between the two sides appeared to be simple experience at this format, epitomised with the second and third Belgian tries when Scotland seemed to “switch off” after a penalty was awarded against them, the loss of concentration being punished on both occasions.
In an exciting final Belgium scored first in the opening minute, again retaining the ball as well as they had against Scotland. However, despite dominating possession, Germany went into the break 12-10 ahead thanks to two turnover, and 40m and 50m sprints by their wings. Early in the second half Belgium went ahead again, breaking out of defence to lead 15-10, but with three minutes to go Germany again took advantage of a turnover to find gaps in the Belgian line and score a crucial third try. Even so, there was still room for one more drama when Germany’s attempt kick to touch to win the game was sliced, but fortunately for the Gemans the Belgian collecting the ball was unable to break away and was forced into touch.
Pool A: Germany 29-0 Latvia; Poland 14-19 Belgium; Germany 27-0 Belgium; Poland 29-17 Latvia; Germany 19-12 Poland; Belgium 15-5 Latvia
Pool B: Ukraine 22-5 Georgia; Andorra 12-40 Scotland; Ukraine 0-36 Scotland; Andorra 17-0 Georgia; Ukraine 12-12 Andorra; Scotland 46-0 Georgia
5th/8th semi-finals Poland 32-5 Georgia; Ukraine 5-26 Latvia
Semi-finals Germany 35-0 Andorra; Scotland 5-17 Belgium
7th place final Georgia 5-15 Ukraine
5th place final Poland 12-17 Latvia
Bronze final Scotland 0-33 Andorra
Gold final Germany 17-15 Belgium