Article by Craig Brown
The Penguins once again received an invitation to compete in the famous SCC 7s over the last weekend of October 2015. Both England and Australia where sending their respective development teams to tournament, so this source of quality 7s players (as per previous years) was not available to the Penguin selection process. Nether the less, a quality side was selected, with a number of players having IRB 7s experience and/or played at the U20 world cup. Four late call offs in the last week did not help, and the last player did not arrive until Wednesday night.
Key for the first week was an experienced 7s coach. Thanks to Simon Amor from England 7s, for recommending James Farndon to lead the team. James has coached the England 7s Development team as well as GB student 7s at the World Games (winning the tournament). James was supported by Tony Hanks (former Waikato, Wasps and Sale coach and current the High Performance Manager for the Blues super rugby team in Auckland) who was joining the Penguins on his third trip.
Also, thanks to the Singapore Cricket Club for putting on another great event.
The team scheduled in 1 gym based and 5 field based practise sessions over the course of the week. The Wednesday afternoon sessions included a practise match against Cottesloe again at the Australian International School (AIS).
Prior to the practise session with Cottesloe, the Penguin team ran a 45 minute coaching session for the AIS U14 and U16 7s teams.
Thanks to Messers Moyes, Brokenshire, McLeod and Ridge for hosting another great Penguin Tight 5 Dinner at the Polo Club on Wednesday evening. The team enjoyed the Club’s facilitates (warm down and stretch with pool session), some fun with the children and a relaxed meal. Also thanks to James Forester for allowing the team to use his gym and supplying Joe and Tom to act as trainers for the team for the week.
The last session on Thursday afternoon was the captains run at Dempsey fields. Captain Hafu and Vice-Captain Tuitavake put the team through its paces and it was clear they had trained enough and wanted to move to playing footy. All teams had 1 game on the Friday, 2 pool games Saturday plus the last 16 game and then into quarter finals on Sunday.
First up was the Swedish Vikings. The Penguins were a bit rusty but were fitter than there opponents and ran out comfortable winners but the Swedish side did test the Penguin defence for multiple periods through the match.
The first 2 games on Saturday were against Sri Lanka and Cottesloe (from Perth) and the team kept improving finishing with a solid victory over Cottesloe. Again the Penguin defence was tested but they were up to the challenge.
Unfortunately Amanaki Nicole sustain and ankle injury against Cottesloe and that was his tournament over.
The final game on Saturday was the last 16 clash against the Singapore national team. The Penguins defended aggressively and when in possession attacked from the outset with superb handing, backing up and classic 7s play lead to a good win, and plenty of game time for all.
First up on Sunday in the quarter final was England Development team so a huge test. The English team lost narrowly to the South African team in pool play and had been combining well and playing some good 7s – so a great challenge for the team. The match was very even and the teams traded tries to be locked at 14 all going into the last quarter of the match. The Penguins took their chances and got the winning try with 2 minutes remaining. The Penguins did well at the break down and this was a significant part of the victory. Stand outs for the Penguins where Mike Teo, Kylem O’Donnell, Nafi Tuitavake and Antonio Kiri Kiri although all 11 played there part. Mike in particular scored two brilliant tries down the left flank and a try saving tackle
Next to the semi-final against defending champions Borneo Eagles. Over the years these two teams have played each other many times with many close score lines. In a match where neither side was prepared to take a backwards step and in a fast paced encounter, the Penguins went 14-0. Borneo came back into the match and scored two well worked tries of their own so heading into the last ¼ of the match it was Penguins leading 14-10. After absorbing the Borneo attached, the Penguins had their chances and took it with some smart support play, to put Nafi Tuitavake away on a 45 meter run to score under the post, and seal the win. A great match and a famous Penguin victory – now attention turned to the final against South Africa who had Cecil Africa, Kyle Brown and Frankie Horne in their side.
South Africa scored three tries in the first 4 minutes of the final and the Penguins were chasing the games after that. The South African side was too good on the day and showed the Penguins respect by noticeably stepping up their physical game for the final. The Penguins had some attacking opportunities and converted one but at the end of the day the best team won the tournament so congratulations to South Africa.
It was a great tournament for the Penguins and reinforces the Club’s ability to complete on the international stage.
Thanks to the supporters, helps team and management for a great week in Singapore.
Back Row: Tom Clarke (Trainer – UFIT Gyms), James Fardon (Coach - Newbury, GB Students, England Dev 7s), Josh Taufili (Papatoetoe, Auckland Colts & 7s, Chief Dev, Blues Dev), Liam Steel (University, Auckland B, Blues Dev, NZ 7s Dev), Jon Faauli (University, Counties-Manukau XVs, NZ U20, Samoa U20), Willy Hafu (Tonga XVs & 7s – Captain) , Antonio Kiri Kiri (Old Boys Marist, Manawatu 7s & XVs), Mike Teo (Belmont Shore, USA XVs & 7s), Tony Hanks (Coach - Waikato, Wasps, Sale, Russia, Blues High Performance Manager) , Sue Olovsson (Masseur), Sam Brennan (Physio)
Front Row: Joe Williams (Trainer – UFIT Gyms), Toma Tia (Mangere College, Blues & Auckland U18), Kylem O'Donnell (Melville, Waikato XVs & 7s, Taranaki, NZ 7s), Nick Smith (Pakuranga, Auckland B, Blues Dev, Blues Tens), Gareth Bautz (Wests, Brumbies 7s), Aminaki Nicole (Sumner, Canterbury age groups, Bs & 7s), Nafi Tuitavake (Massey, North Harbour, Crusaders, NZ U20 & 7s – Vice Captain), Craig Brown (Manager)
Absent: Muzzy (Liaison Officer)
Penguins 26 v 0 Swedish Vikings
Penguins 38 v 14 Sri Lanka
Penguins 34 v 0 Cottesloe
Penguins 61 - 0 Singapore
Penguins 19 – 12 England Development
Penguins 21 – 10 Borneo Eagles
Penguins 5 – 36 South Africa
Points for: 204 Points against: 41
Thanks to the SCC and their photographers for supplying some of these images.