Result: Winners of the HSBC COBRA 10s – the Hui Weng Choon Trophy
After a brilliant and victorious week in Singapore, the team travelled north into Malaysia. Unfortunately, both SSC 7s skipper Nafi Tuitavake and influential player Matt Hodson returned to NZ for various rugby reasons and were replaced by Phil Tuigamala and Nathan Hohaia. In addition, Paulisia Manu and Sam Hayes-Stevenson joined the 12 from Singapore to make the 14 players required for the HSBC COBRA 10s.
The first stop on the road to Kuala Lumpur was Johor, the southern city of Malaysia. After a suitable lunch break (driven by the need or a couple of players to duck back to Singapore to retrieve their bags!) the bus headed up the west coast of Malaysia to Port Dickson. Ben Botica kept the bus entertained with his guitar and the bus made a hurried stop when some Macaque monkeys were spotted near the road.
The two days/nights in Port Dickson were spent training, running a coaching session for over 130 local children and a chance to sample some of the culinary delights Malaysia has to offer. The team did really well in running the coaching clinic for the local youngsters and the laughter and smiles on the faces of all confirmed this. All of the participating children and their coaches were presented with an HSBC Penguin Coaching Academy T-Shirt. Club CEO Craig Brown confirmed this was one of the best ever sessions run by any Penguin team and credit was due to the guys for the way they planned and executed the clinic.
As part of the build up to the HSBC COBRA 10s, the team held a warm up match against JLJ, the local Army based side. Capt Nasrul and Rizal were our hosts and confirmed the Penguin were the first foreign team to play JLJ and in Port Dickson. The game was a good warm up, and JLJ used the three times 10 minute thirds to give as many of their players as possible a run. Coach McKittrick named Shane Christie as captain based on Shane’s performances in Singapore and his respect within the team. The hit out was a valuable exercise transforming the players from 7’s to 10’s mode.
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur, the team was hosted by Jon Addis of HSBC at the inaugural Rugby Legends dinner as presented by the COBRA club. All had a very pleasant evening.
Come Thursday, the team started to get into tournament mode and the intensity in training reflected this. Some adjustments were required as the team adapted from 7s to 10s.
Thanks to Deano Herewini who put on a splendid meal at the Blue Cow on Thursday night.
Many of the team had not played 10s before so a new experience awaited. With usual COBRA efficiency, a police escort ensured the bus got to the stadium with out delay and the warm up for game one commenced. Coach McIntosh put the side through its warm up to ensure bodies and minds were ready for the Sabah Eagles challenge in game one.
The team coped well on day one, running up two comfortable victories before facing Ponsonby in one of the feature matches of the day. Defence lead the way again, as in Singapore, and the team ran out winner 12 – 0 after a closely fought contest. Rolling subs meant that everyone had ample playing time and all contributed to a great day one.
Day two dawned hot and sunny so factor 30 sun block was a must! The team was scheduled to play in the last game of the cup quarter finals so a wee bit of a sleep in was welcomed.
First up was the Australian team from Canberra, Gungahlin Eagles. The match was fairly even for the first 5 minutes with both defences coping well with the opposition attacks. However, the fitter Penguin team were putting the Australian’s under pressure often and individual defence kept the penguins out. Eventually the superior Penguins found the gaps required and the tries started to come. It was interesting to note the Australians competed right to the end and their one on one defence held, but continuity and game sense ensure the Penguins moved on to the cup semi final.
The semi final was an interesting match. The Natal Duikers had a big side with plenty of representative players in their ranks. In another feature match on day one the Duikers lost narrowly to the New Zealand Legends in a match rules but big defence and lots of hit ups. The Penguins prepared for a very physical encounter, but in the performance of the weekend the Penguins were just too good with ball in hand, especially with support play keeping movement after movement alive. The Penguin had the game won by half time, leading 38-0 at the break. In the second half, the Penguins looked to conserve energy placing emphasis on their defensive strategies. The final score 43-0.
So much for the factor 30 sun block - a massive thunder storm enveloped the stadium at the start of the bowl final and put a halt to proceedings for about 45 minutes. This left the pitch wet and muddy in parts although it did hold together reasonably well until the end of play.
Coming down the other side of the draw was the New Zealand Legend team, who had a number of representative players and had scored some impressive wins on day 1. Most spectators were predicting and New Zealand Legend – Penguin final and this is what transpired. Coach McIntosh was again outstanding in preparing the team. The Penguins opened the scoring with a try to Viliame Fihaki and a converted try by Paulo Kinikinilau just before halftime saw the Penguins take a 14-0 lead into the break. In a rare defensive lapse the NZ Legends scored soon after the resumption however sustained Penguin pressure saw vice captain Nathan Hohaia score to put the final beyond reach. The Penguins victory was based on defence with the side conceding just 12 points through the entire tournament. Coach McIntosh was again outstanding in this aspect and was sometimes assisted by John McKittrick who kept the stats.
A fourth COBRA 10s title for the Penguins and a brilliant end to a great two week tour. To win both tournaments is a tremendous achievement and will be remembered in the club for a very long time.
A great bunch of men who had a great life experience.
Penguins 59 – 0 Sabah Eagles (MAS)
Penguins 47 – 5 NNK (RSA)
Penguins 12 – 0 Ponsonby (NZ)
Penguins 30 – 0 Gungahlin Eagles (AUS)
Penguins 43 – 0 Natal Duikers (RSA)
Penguins 21 – 7 New Zealand Legends
Tries: Hohaia 7, Botica 5, Christie 5, Kinikinilau 5, Fihaki 3, McNicholl 3, Manu 2, Phil Tuigamala 1, Leiataua 1, Raikuna 1, Griffin 1
Conversions: Botica 19, Christie 1, Phil Tuigamala 1
Penalties/drop kicks: none
Points for 212 (average per game 35.3)
Points against 12 (average per game 2.0)
Squad: Shane Christie (Nelson, Tasman, Tasman 7s – Captain), Pauliasi Manu (University, Auckland), Ben Botica (North Shore, North Harbour), Nalu Tuigamala (East Coast Bays, North Harbour, North Harbour 7s, NZU20), Villiame Fihaki (Patumahoe, Counties Manukau), Johnny McNicholl (Sydenham, Canterbury 7s, U21, Crusaders Dev), Manu Leiataua (Mahurangi, North Harbour, Wellington 7s, Wellington B), Roy Griffin (Kamo, Northland, Blues Dev), Paula Kinikinilau (Alhambra-Union, Horowhenua-Kapiti, Otago), David Raikuna (Pukekohe, Counties Manukau , 7s), Irwin Finau (Silverdale, North Harbour B, Auckland 7s), Sam Hayes-Steveson (Burnside, Canterbury B, Crusaders Dev), Nathan Hohaia (Tukapa, Taranaki, Taranaki 7s, Hurricanes Dev – Vice Captian), Phil Tuigamala (Northcote, North Harbour U20, Dev)
Coaches: John McKittrick and Rodney McIntosh
Manager: Craig Brown
Liaison Manager: Hang Kek Kang
Committee Member: David Townsend
Academy Coaches: Neil Graham and Tony Penn
Back row: Rod McIntosh (Coach), Craig Brown (Manager), David Raikuna, Paula Kinikinilau, Sam Hayes-Stevenson, Roy Griffin, Shane Christie (Capt), Vili Fihaki, nalu Tuigamala, Irwin Finau, Nathan Hohaia (obscured), John McKittrick (Coach)
Front row: Pauliasi Manu, Ben Botica, Manu Leiataua, Johnny McNichol, Phil Tuigamala
Insert: Hang Kek Kang (Liaison Manager)