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GFI Hong Kong Football Club Tens
22nd to 30th March 2015, Hong Kong

Article by Craig Brown

The Penguins undertook the long march back to Hong Kong for the GFI Hong Kong Football Club Tens, followed by the HSBC Hong Kong 7s.

As with previous years, the team had a southern hemisphere flavour but included Sam Stanley from England 7s, the US Eagles captain Todd Clever and All Black Rico Gear. Returning Penguins included Kurt Davis, Willie Walker (named captain), Matt Vant Leven, Afa Fa’atau, Harry Bergelin, Vara Duisokosoko and Ray Niuia.

Sean Lineen returned for his second consecutive year as coach, and was joined by North Harbour and Blues Dev coach Steve Jackson, on his first Penguin tour.

The team was managed by Craig Brown and Kenny Moyes with Marc Daniel and Sue Olovsson making up the medical team.

All arrived safely into Hong Kong and the team got down to the business of preparing for the Hong Kong tens. First up was Monday morning training and the first outing of the team. Monday afternoon training was held at Sandy Bay with the team running a session for the Sandy Bay youngsters post training. Over 80 enthusiastic children took part in the 90 min sessions which focused on skills, team work with a lot of fun along the way. Well done to the Penguin players for putting on a great session and to our hosts Sandy Bay for inviting us and providing an enjoyable BBQ.

Two further training runs where held Tuesday with the morning sessions a combined run out with the East African team featuring our good friends from Rwanda.

Tournament day 1 duly arrived and to be honest the guys were ready to play footy – that is what they were in HK to do, after all. Day one had an interesting mix of games. First up was the Devil’s Advocate Silver Dragons from Shanghai but with an international flavour. Second was UBB Gavekal complete with Penguin Andy Kelly in the line-up (based on the championship Hong Kong team Valley with 8 French reinforcements). Last game of the day was against the French Development team, which included a number of French 7s players in their ranks.

Injuries again plagued the team, and at one stage the team was down to 12 fit players for the last 1 ˝ games on day one, with 3 players having short term injuries that needed 24 hours to clear. Star forward Todd Clever ended his tournament with a knee injury, in game 2, which was a big loss.

Game 1 – 4 tries and blistering pace from Ed Fidow was the highlight. Todd Clever also chipped in with 2 tries and one each from Walker, Davies and Fahamokioa. A good start for the team considering they had not played together before. Good work across the park and plenty to take forward.

Game 2 – Two long ranges tries from Gear with one each from Steel and Vant Leven. This was a sterner test for the team and credit to the defence for keeping the opposition scoreless. They had developed from game one and showed improvement. A good all-round effort from Pryor as well.

Game 3 – A very tight game with neither team giving an inch and the French playing a very niggly game. This was the 4th time in two years the two sides had met in either 7s or 10s. Pryor again lead from the front with important defence also from Vant Leven, Fahamokioa and Hunt. Walker led the team well and controlled the game at times. But the French defence was too good and a way through was not to be found.

So a quarter final against the Samurai – same as the previous year. All still to play for.

Day two, and a big quarter final against Samurai for the second year running. The team was determined not to go out of the tournament in the quarter-finals and has their minds firmly focused on the match.

In the best performance of the tournament, the Penguins dominated the match from the start with great defence and the ability to support from deep on the counter attack. The team scored 3 tries with one each to Airi Hunt, Liam Steel and Tolu Fahamokioa with Willie Walker adding two conversions.

Next up was the semi-final against YCAC Tradition. The Penguins could not break the strong Tradition defence and struggled a little in the first phase. Tradition took their chances well and capitalised on missed tackles to run out winners 26 to 7 with Kurt Davies scoring for the Penguins and Sam Stanley adding the conversion.

Another great Penguin Trip and we look forward to the next.

Back row: Sean Lineen (coach, Scotland U21), Rico Gear (High School Old Boys, Poverty Bay, Crusaders, Blues, Worcester, Kintetsu, All Blacks), Kara Pryor (Grammar-Carlton, Northland, Blues Dev), Liam Steel (University, Auckland, Blues Dev), Matt Vant Leven (Kobe Steelers, Waikato, Chiefs), Willy Walker (Nth Shore, Nth Harbour, Highlanders, Gloucester, NZ Maori – Captain), Tolu Fahamokioa (Tawa, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Hurricanes), Telea-Afa Faatau (Oriental Rongotai, Wellington 7s & XVs), Airi Hunt (Waitemata, Auckland, Blues Dev), Ed Fidow (Waitemata, Auckland Dev & 7s, Blues Dev), Steve Jackson (coach, North Harbour)

Front row: Harry Bergelin (Manly, Australia 7s), Sam Stanley (Saracens, England 7s), Varasiko Duisokosoko (Suburbs, Auckland 7s), Kurt Davis (University, Canterbury, Northland 7s & XVs), Gafatasi Su’a (Ponsonby, Auckland, Blues Dev, NZ Schools), Ray Niuia (Massey, Nth Harbour, Blues Dev, NZ U17)

Inset: Todd Clever (Shinning Arcs, Lions, USA XVs & 7s)

In transit: Craig Brown (Manager), Kenny Moyes (Manager), Sue Olovsson (Masseur), Marc Daniel (Physio)

Pool D

Penguins 54 - 0 Devils Advocate Silver Dragons (CHN)

Penguins 26 - 0 UBB Gavekal (FRA/HKG)

Penguins 0 - 7 French Development Team

Quarter Final

Penguins 17 – 7 Samurai (ENG)

Semi Final

Penguins 7 – 26 Tradition YCAC (JPN/NZL)

Congratulations to Kara Pryor who was presented with the John Grove Award for the Best and Fairest Player at the tournament.

Once the tournament was over, the team moved to the second phase of the week with spectating at the Hong Kong 7s to look forward to, as well as helping at a charity function.

Late morning on the Friday and the team headed to the Jockey Club to help the Christina Nobel Children’s Foundation run the Ladies Long Lunch for 2015. This annual event attracts ladies from around the globe and raises significant sums of money for children in need in Mongolia and Vietnam. Seven of the players were nominated as models and put on a great show modelling Tommy Bahama gear. Our own Ray Niuia was the MC for the fashion show and set the scene by getting the ladies involved from the start! The net result was a record HK$1.4m raised for the Charity, with the Penguins certainly doing their bit to help with the success.

Those with brave hearts then took their place in the South Stand on Saturday, dressed as Mexican bandits, and then the team took in the finals day on Sunday, witnessing some great rugby culminating in a famous Fijian victory.

The Penguins and the East African team have a dance off post their joint training session
Skipper Willie Walker on the run, whilst simultaneously performing his lizard impersonation
Todd Clever looking to put the player in space
Liam Steel on the charge
Tolu Fahamokioa with the big fend close in
Rico Gear blasting past the Samurai
Gafatasi  Su’a on the inside, outside run to gain the advantage
Great continuity with the pass out of the tackle by Airi Hunt
Airi Hunt with Kara Pryor in support
Wheels man Ed Fidow on the charge
Matt Vant Leven hits it up
Afa Faatau goes around the Tradition defence
Harry Bergelin sets up the next ruck
The Ladies Long Lunch charity models posing after the fitting at Tommy Bahamas
Confirmation of the total raised at the Ladies Long Lunch charity function – an incredible $1.4million
Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group