The St.Mary's 7's organisers couldn't have asked for better weather. Lovely sunshine and a big crowd were out to witness some wonderful Rugby League 7's.
The Fiji Bati A squad had some late omissions due to NRL trials so the final squad that ran out was
Hamilton Hughes Max Bainivalu George Dansey Steven Delaivuna Suli Koroi Gilbert Modrau Puna Rausabale (c) Esala Vute Frank Waqa Livai Wara Stan Tuitavake Jono Pritchard
Fiji Bati A were drawn in pool 3 to take on the NZ Residents and American Samoa. NZ Residents were a strong side who could boast Odell Manuel and Shaun Ata who both were NRL contracted players. However, Fiji Bati A started the game very well with tries to Tuitavake and Hughes. The score was 16 - 12 to the NZ Residents and in the final seconds the NZ Residents snatched another try to seal the game at 22 - 12.
Next game, Fiji Bati A were up against a very big American Samoan side. The game was very close the whole way through. Fiji A went to the break with a 2 point lead with tries to Waqa and Hughes. The game finished with Fiji Bati A holding on 18 -16 to finish 2nd in pool 3 and qualify for the Plate semi finals.
Fiji Bati A were to meet the Cook Islands who Fiji have not beaten in over 2 years. Cook Islands won a 2 game series in Fiji last year and most recently had a 20 - 20 draw on January 26th up at Coffs Harbour International Stadium. The Bati A team knew they were in for a tough match. Fiji Bati A came out firing going into the break 12 - 4 with tries to Tuitavake and Dansey. The Bati A knew they couldn't take the foot off the pedal as the Cook Islands would give it there all in the 2nd half. Some silly errors let the Fijians down in the 2nd half with Cook Islands snatching victory with 50 seconds left on the clock to win 18 - 16 in heart breaking fashion.
Fiji Bati A will put this behind them and will concentrate on the next challenge which will be the Sports-Oxy Shot 7's (Wollongong) next Saturday 19th February. Fiji have drawn pool 9 with Picton and UTS Jets (Sydney). Fiji must win the pool to go onto the quarter finals.
The eventual winners at the St.Mary's 7's were: Cup: Penrith-St.Mary's Cougars beat NZ Residents 22-8. Plate: Doonside beat Cook Islands 20-10. Bowl: Sydney Bulls beat American Samoa 28-16.