The HSBC Penguins returned to Hong Kong for the 4th successive year to participate in the Hong Kong Football Club Tens. The tournament was played on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th March 2010. The team arrived in to Hong Kong on the Sunday evening to prepare for the start of the tournament on the Wednesday. The team was in pool C with Samurai, Cardiff University and the host team, Hong Kong Football Club.
The team prepared well with 4 training session carried out over two days, with the last being a walk through and organisation session. Going to bed on Tuesday night the team was feeling good and looking forward to playing.
The team was hosted to a function by HSBC on the Monday night at the banks’ HQ in Central. Sandy Flockhart welcomed the Penguins on behalf of the bank, and Craig Brown replied for the club. The evening was very relaxing with a chance for the Penguins to mingle with HSBC staff and invited guests, including many from the Hong Kong rugby community.
On the Tuesday evening, just after the team’s final training run, the Penguin players ran a session for the Sandy Bay RFC youngsters (U10 to U16). Similar to previous years, the players divided themselves up into groups and the Sandy Bay players rotated around the various Penguin stations. Also in attendance was the Rwandan national team, and they joined in the coaching as well. After the session was finished, the New Zealanders amongst the Penguins performed the Haka and the Rwandan’s responded with a traditional song/dance.
The team understood from the start that a big challenged faced them on day one on the last pool game. Samurai had selected a strong team, based on a large proportion of New Zealanders who have played at NPC level. The first two pool matches were good challenges for the team, with a lot of hard work required at the start, to set up the victories, against two committed teams. At the end of the day, the pace, fitness and experience of the Penguins carried them through to the first two victories. The defensive organisation was challenged but the team managed to keep both teams scoreless. In the last pool game, Samurai caused problems by getting over the gain line frequently, which kept the Penguins on the back foot for long periods of the game. Samurai’s ability to get beyond the first defensive line gave them plenty of attacking opportunities which lead to tries through a stretched Penguin defence. The Penguins rallied well with two well worked tries but they ran out of time trying to close the deficit. It was disappointing to lose the game, but the team had performed well enough and had learnt plenty to improve for day two.
In one of the closet matches of the tournament, the Penguin beat Borneo Eagles 6 – 5. With great defence from both teams chances were minimal. On the whistle of half time the Penguins received a penalty and elected to shoot for gaol to collect 3 points. Midway through the second half another penalty resulted in another 3 point. In a thrilling finale, with the clock on full time, the Penguins leading 6 – 0 and Borneo in possession, Borneo strung a multi-phased attack together and scored in the left hand corner. 6 – 5 with the kick to come! Some watched, some could not. The kick went up and the reaction of the Borneo Eagles kicker confirmed the result. It sailed wide and the Penguins won.
In a repeat of the previous 3 years the Penguins – Alien clash was a close affair with massive commitment, defence and skill on show. The Penguins had their chances but the last ditch Alien defence held strong and the Aliens went through to the final courtesy of the penalty kick they scored half way through the second half. It was a classic game of Tens with both sides scoring two converted tries a piece.
Disappointing to miss out in the semis, following making finals in the previous three years, but the team played well, were professional and committed in their endeavours and did the club proud on and off the field.
The team enjoyed the last three days with a mixture of IRB 7s and fund raising events. Six of the team acted as chaperones at the Ladies Long Lunch as organised, a charity event to raise money for underprivileged children as organised by The Christina Noble Foundation.
Penguins 47 – 0 Hong Kong Football Club
Penguins 47 – 0 Cardiff University
Penguins 12 – 24 Samurai
Penguins 6 – 5 Borneo Eagles
Penguins 14 – 17 Aliens
Squad: Nick Collins (Kamo, Northland, Chiefs, NZ 7s – Captain), Sam Clarke (East Coast Bays, Thames Valley), Jordan Smiler (Hautapu, Waikato 7s, Waikato), Luke Hamilton (Costal, Northland, Nth Harbour 7s, NZ 7s), Reece Robinson (Marist, Manawatu, Chiefs, NZ Maori), Orisi Seraki (Nasinu, Suva, Fiji 7s), Karl Bryson (College Old Boys, Manawatu 7s, Manawatu U20), Hua Tamariki (Marist, Southland), Ben Frame (Glenmark, Canterbury B), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki U18 & 7s, NZ 7s squad), Makota Tosa (Oxford University, NEC Green Rockets, Japan U23), James Brown (Fiji U19, Canterbury U21 & Development, Fiji 7s), Nathan Hohaia (Costal, Taranaki 7s, Taranaki), Mike Mayhew (Northcote, North Harbour), John Jackson (Otorohunga, Nadi, Nawaka 7s, Fiji Warriors)
Coaches: Frank Hadden (former Scotland Head Coach), Steve Hill (Director of Rugby at Oxford University)
Manager: Craig Brown
Action, team and training photos follow below.