The Penguins arrived into Singapore late on a Tuesday night and the tired squad headed straight for bed. Fully refreshed on Wednesday the team set about preparing for the SCC 7s with two training runs and a chance to have a look at a few of the sights of Singapore as well.
Coaches McKittrick and Botica marshalled the trainings well and concentrated on the defensive systems the teams would use, the first phase plays and the attacking support roles the team would adopt. Unfortunately the weather in Singapore was changeable with heavy rain often. The practice match against the SCC 7s team on Wednesday night was cancelled.
Training on the Thursday stepped up a bit with a hard blow out in the morning training under a hot sun. This certainly gave the players a taste of playing in the warm Singapore climate and most were experiencing this for the first time. The 2 coaches and the manager also joined in part of the blow out!
One of the highlights of the week was the Moyes brothers Penguin Singapore Dinner at the Polo club on Thursday night. With about 50 people in attendance the evening was nice and relaxed with plenty of banter and great humour. The players were playing the next day so did leave early - not some of the others! A great vote of thanks to Kenny & Jamie Moyes and Brad French for there hospitality. A brilliant evening.
The tournament duly arrived with a late start on the Friday for the team. First up was Randwick from Sydney. The weather was damp but nothing like the torrential rain that would strike later in the tournament. In an interesting match Randwick ran out winners 10-7 in an evenly contested match. Both sides spread the ball wide but the Penguins were guilty of playing as individuals too much and not playing 7s. Randwick defended well and deserved their win.
Saturday brought two matches but no better results in the first game. Second up was Cottesloe from Perth. Cottesloe held on to the ball well and work the ball wide when they could and took their chances well. The Penguin team was still playing individually and paid the price with a second consecutive loss. Cottesloe looked good and were keen to build on their plate win from the previous year. The last game of the day was against the French Pyrenees team. This was a must win for the Penguin team.
Finally a decent 7s style emerged and the Penguin team hit their game. They played as a 7s team, not individually and let the ball do the work. The taking contact all the time approach of the first match disappeared and the result was a comfortable 31-5 win. End result the Penguins finished second in the pool and would go on to face COBRA in a last 16 match on Sunday. Lucas “Sonic” Swart stared with blistering pace and scored a hat trick. Captain Karl Bryson also marshalled the defence well and led the team from the front.
The equation to win the tournament was easy - four games, 4 wins. First our close friends from Kuala Lumpur - COBRA. The Penguin team continued their form from Friday night and played smart 7s again. Letting the ball to the work and applying an aggressive defence when COBRA where in possession. COBRA was guilty of the same mistake the Penguins made in their first 2 games with too much individual play. At the final whistle, the Penguin’s triumphed 29 - 7.
Next up in the quarter finals was the Cassurina Cougars from Darwin who had former Fiji 7s player and Penguin representative Lapani ** in their ranks. The Cougars were playing smart 7s and the Penguins knew this would be a close fought contest. In the end some good team play and good pace saw the Penguins’ home 10-5. Codey Rei was the defensive king and his spot tackles made all the difference and won some key turn overs or put the Cougars under immense pressure.
Matches were delayed for about 90 minutes following a huge tropical storm. The result was the field was more like a shallow lake than a rugby pitch!
The semi-final was against Rugby Ecosse, a Scotland 7s team training for the start of the IRB world series. Again a close encounter was expected. The condition did not lead to a lot of ball movement but both teams did try to move the ball to space to move forward. The Penguins scored first I the corner and with kicking near impossible the score stood at 5 - 0 with about 2 minutes to go. Some great defence again from Codie Rei and Marvin Karawana joined in with a couple of big hits as well. Eventually an Ecosse player got a little space and did remarkably well to run over 50 meters pass a couple of Penguin defenders to score under the posts. The only place where it was possible to kick a conversion was under the post the Ecosse player scored under and the conversion was successful. The Penguins then had to chase the game and although they had a couple of half chances they could not get the score to win and lost 5-7 to the men from Scotland.
It was a slow start by Penguin standards but the team did come back very well and played some great 7s but fell just short in the semi-final. The team enjoyed the Sunday night and were looking forward to heading to Malaysia for the second week of the tour.
At the SCC 7s after tournament party manager Craig Brown had to get on stage on behalf of the team and entertained the troops with his Wall Paper Stick to the Wall song!
Back row: Frano Botica (Coach), John McKittrick (Coach), Chris Smith (Takapuna, Nth Habour XV & 7s,Blues Dev, NZ U19 & U20), Cory Aporo (Silverdale, BOP, North Harbour, Chiefs, NZ Schools, NZ U19), Codie Rei (East Coast Bays, Taranaki, Nth Harbour, NZ U20), Shahn Eru (Wainuiomata, Wellington 7s & Dev, Hurricanes Dev, NZ U20), Harry Bergelin (Manly, Australia 7s training squad), Martin Swart (HSOB, Canterbury Age groups, Crusader Knights, NZ U20 trials, Craig Brown (Manager), Bill Calcraft (Senior Vice President)
Front Row: Bryn Templeman (Kia Toa, Manawatu), Ellery Wilson (HSOB, Canterbury U21, 7s, & XVs), Karl Bryson (COB, Manawatu XVs & 7s - Captain), Brian Sefania (Manly, Western Force, Australia 7s), Marvin Karawana (Wainuiomata, Wellington Dev & 7s, Hawkes Bay, Newcastle Knights, Canterbury Bulldogs, Junior Kiwis), Zac Hohneck (Otorohanga, Waikato, BOP 7s)
Absent from photo: Physios: Marc Daniels and Joy and Liaison Manager: Andi Iryadi
Penguins 7 - 10 Randwick (AUS)
Penguins 10 - 19 Cottesloe (AUS)
Penguins 31 - 5 French Pyrenees
Penguins 29 - 7 COBRA (MAS)
Penguins 10 - 5 Cassurina Cougars (AUS)
Penguins 5 - 7 Rugby Ecosse (SCO)
Points: Swart 6 tries, Bryson 2 tries, Bergelin 2 tries, Karawana 2 tries, Hohneck 1 try, Aporo 1 try, Safania 1 try, Rei 1 try and 6 conversions
Total 92, against 9 tries and 4 conversions for 53 points