ARCADIA were crowned Northern Areas High Schools sevens rugby champions when they triumphed 19-12 in a thrilling final against a gutsy Bertram side at the Adcock Stadium yesterday.
After leading 14-0 at halftime, the eventual winners had to fight off a determined second half fightback by Bertram before sealing the victory with a try on the final whistle.
In the girls' final, Booysen Park were jubilant after claiming the title in a exciting showdown with Bertram, winning 10-5.
The finals crowned an outstanding three days of sevens rugby for schools in the northern areas which tournament organiser Shaun Fondling said was just a prelude to the annual night series beginning next month.
"We have given the players a chance to get some rustiness out of their system with this tournament after the school holidays before moving into the more physical 15-man game," Fondling said.
Arcadia looked in charge of their final when they led 14-0 at halftime against Bertram, courtesy of tries by Ronald Links and the impressive Dillon Beckett.
But Bertram struck twice in the second half through Jerome de Bruyn and Caylem Goliath, closing the gap to 14-12 with about three minutes left.
Arcadia then gritted their teeth on defence and Beckett used what possession came their way with some intelligent tactical kicking.
With one of those kicks ahead, Bertram failed to secure possession and Marcello Zealand booted the ball through, and chased hard to score the match-winning try, with the final whistle going immediately after the failed conversion.
The girls' final was marked by outstanding defence as both teams showed great spirit. Bertram controlled the first half but Booysen Park tackled with furious intensity and a never-say-die attitude.
The Booysen girls showed their pace on attack and Lelane Nimmerhoud and Kim Windvogel slipped through in the second half to make it 10-0. Bertram finally scored through Britney Coetzee, followed by the final whistle.
Yesterday's results were:
Losers semifinals: Hillside 15 Walmer 0, Woolhope 20 Paterson 0; final: Hillside 29 Woolhope 5.
Main semifinals: Arcadia 28 Bethelsdorp 0, Bertram 26 Gelvandale 5; 3rd place: Gelvandale 26 Bethelsdorp 5; final: Arcadia 19 Bertram 12
Girls' losers final: Chatty 10 Paterson 0; girls' final: Booysen Park 10 Bertram 5.