The team was up reasonable early Monday morning, in taxis and across the border from Singapore to Johour Bharu. The bus duly arrived and we hit the motorway and headed north for Malaka where the team would be based for the next two days.
The itinerary for Malaka was some training for the COBRA 10s - adjusting from 7s, a game against the local team JLJ, running a coaching session for local school boys and some time for a look about Malaysia's historic city.
On Wednesday afternoon the team bid farewell to Melaka and headed to Selangor and the HSBC COBRA 10s tournament hotel. A number of teams had already arrived so there was a good buzz about the place. Activities planned in Kuala Lumpur in the lead up to the Tens included the HSBC function, training, some R&R in KL including shopping in China town.
Similar to Singapore the weather was changeable with some massive down pours and incredible lightning storms. These storms stopped training for all teams at time and also some lightning hit the training field and the Amada hotel.
Thanks for Jon Chivers and HSBC for putting on a great evening when the ban welcomed us to Malaysia. The venue was the bank’s function suite at the top of their building on Jalan Ampang in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. Great views of KL, superb hospitality and company made for a great evening. Jon Chivers welcomed the Penguins and Craig Brown provided an updated on what the Penguins had been up to in 2012. Captain Chris Smith completed the speeches with a vote of thanks to our hosts.
Tournament day one arrived and the team was up early as we were in the first game of the day. With the team meeting the night before and everybody set to go ewe headed to Stadium Petaling Jaya in Kelana Jaya. First up was the local team Keris Conlay who had a number of Fijians in their ranks. First games are always a bit touch and go and this was no exception. The Penguins put in an honest display and ran their systems well. The opposition defended well and save a couple of tried in the second half. Mission accomplish, first win.
Next was the Aussie Legends with their colourful manager Pot Holes leading the way! You can generally hear Pot Holes across state lines and when he speaks………….. Anyway, the team put in a great effort, using the ball well and also punishing the defence of the set phase and around the rucks. Some good team tries were scored and a good result.
The last game of the day was against Papatoetoe from New Zealand, a top club side with Kevin Mealamu’s brother as the coach. The Penguin pressure from the outset saw Cory Aporo score from a turnover closely followed by a well constructed try to Chris Smith. With Bryson converting both the Penguins led 14-0 at the break. Papatoetoe came out firing in the second half and with two tries closed the gap to 14-12 but impact from the bench saw the Penguins come away comfortable winners 24-12 with tries to Shahn Eru and Brian Safanaia.
Day two dawned with another set of challenges. First up was a quarter final against top North Harbour club Massey (from New Zealand) who had looked good on day 1 were expected to test the Penguins. in an opening torrid 10 minutes the deadlock was broken by a typical try to Sonic (Martin Swart) to give the Penguins a 5-0 advantage at the break. The Penguins superior fitness was evident in the second spell and tries to Sonic and Safanaia took the Penguins out to a 17-0 buffer before Massey scored in injury time to put the Penguins through to the semis. Final score 17-7
The two best teams in the tournament where to meet in the semi-final. An exciting tie for sure with the Penguins playing the flying Fijian side of Devata came in the Cobra tournament having won back to back titles in Borneo and Singapore. The first half was all Penguins pressure with the Fijians being deprived of possession for the bulk of the half. After a try to Cory Aporo the Penguins led 5-0 going into the break only to turn the ball over and see the Fijians run 60 metres to score and convert to lead 7-5. Devata scored again from a turnover early in the second half to stretch their lead to 14-5 but sustained Penguin pressure saw Shahn Eru score out wide and with the conversion the lead was cut to 14-12. Again the Penguins attacked but with time up Fiji went wide on their 10 metre mark and brilliant pace saw them score and convert to win 21-12. Devata went on to win the final comfortably.
The prize giving was highlighted by Craig Brown presenting the Cobra Club with mounted photo of their guest coach former All Black first five Duncan Robertson scoring against Scotland in the famous waterlogged test of 1975 at Eden Park.
Back Row: Frano Botica (Coach), John McKittrick (Coach), Alex Woonton (North Shore, North Harbour, Cook Islands), Cory Aporo (Silverdale, BOP, North Harbour, Chiefs, NZ Schools, NZ U19), Shahn Eru (Wainuiomata, Wellington 7s & Dev, Hurricanes Dev, NZ U20), Dan Goodwin (Te Puke Sports, BOP and Northland), Codie Rei (East Coast Bays, Taranaki, Nth Harbour, NZ U20), Ellery Wilson (HSOB, Canterbury U21, 7s, & XVs), Craig Brown (Manager), Marc Daniel (Physio).
Front Row: Marvin Karawana (Wainuiomata, Wellington Dev & 7s, Hawkes Bay, Newcastle Knights, Canterbury Bulldogs, Junior Kiwis), Bryn Templeman (Kia Toa, Manawatu), Chris Smith (Takapuna, Nth Habour XV & 7s, Blues Dev, NZ U19 & U20 - Captain), Zac Hohneck (Otorohanga, Waikato, BOP 7s), Karl Bryson (COB, Manawatu XVs & 7s), ), Brian Sefania (Manly, Western Force, Australia 7s), Harry Bergelin (Manly, Australia 7s training squad), Martin Swart (HSOB, Canterbury Age groups, Crusader Knights, NZ U20 trials).
Absent: Malik (Liaison Manager)
Penguins 17 - 5 Kris Conlay (MAS)
Penguins 33 - 0 Aussie Legends
Penguins 24 - 12 Papatoetoe (NZL)
Penguins 17 - 7 Massey (NZL)
Penguins 12 - 21 Daveta (FIJ)
Points: Aporo 6 tries, Swart 4 tries, Safania 3 tries, Eru 2 tries, Woonton 1 try, Smith 1 try, Bryson 8 conversions, Rei 1 conversion
Total points 103 for and 7 tries and 5 conversions against, total 45