Captain proud to lead Hartlepool to Shield victory in Bangkok

Adam Smith (left) and Alex Rochester (right) congratulate Liam Bailey on his try in the final. Picture by PAUL LINCOLN
Adam Smith (left) and Alex Rochester (right) congratulate Liam Bailey on his try in the final. Picture by PAUL LINCOLN

Liam Bailey says leading Hartlepool to a trophy at the Bangkok International Sevens was an "honour".

The united town side, drawn from five Hartlepool & District clubs, and two guests from the link-up with Hong Kong, beat Lao Nagas in the Shield final.

It meant Hartlepool finished the annual tournament in seventh place in the Thai capital, a highly-creditable position for a side up against some high-class, well-drilled teams.

Bailey who, fittingly, scored the third and Shield-clinching try in the 19-5 victory over the Laos national team, said: "I'm proud of the lads and what we did.

"It was a hard couple of days physically, nearly every team we played were used to playing in those conditions.

"We didn't come away empty-handed, came away with something.

"We'd never trained together properly. But once we got the first couple of games out the way we were all right and got better by the game.

"It was an honour to captain those boys and Hartlepool.

"The boys worked really hard, the attitude was excellent, we played some good rugby and scored some cracking tries."

Bailey played a starring role as Hartlepool overturned a five-point interval deficit with tries by Jack McCallum and Liam Austwicke, both converted by Cameron Lithgo, before the skipper's decisive touchdown.

Coach, Michael Ainslie and manager John Bickerstaff were also delighted with the attitude of the squad.

Tournament rules allowed for teams to use players from eliminated sides but, despite injuries to Brad Green and Peter Howe, Hartlepool did not add to their numbers.

"For the final we were two players down, but the lads said 'we won't borrow any players, we'll crack on.

"Our motto was 'only we'll play for us' and they pulled it out when it mattered.

"I was pleased Jack McCallum took our top try scorer, I thought he was one of the players of the tournament."